of So. Ocean Blvd.
from Intracoastal at Lake Worth Bridge
by Jimmy Shirley
Beach Officials Seek To Bury The Truth
Underground Utilities Construction site IS BLOCKING ALL VISUAL
ACCESS for drivers on A1A! It is impossible for the car driver that
is leaving a driveway to see oncoming traffic. It is also not
possible for traffic to see vehicles exiting driveways. There are no
Police or Safety Personnel on scene both day or night. THIS IS JUST
ONE OF MANY HAZARDOUS SITUATIONS THAT HAS BEEN CREATED BY THE TOWN
UNDERGROUNDING UTILITIES PROJECT.
of Palm Beach residents are confronting a serious unstable situation
following Hurricane Irma and the beginning of Phase 1 in the
Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities Project, a Project that will take
at least 10 years to complete.
is significant that the Town is burying the truth about power
outages in other undergrounded municipalities by falsifying the fact
that they indeed had power outages, just the same as municipalities
with overhead lines. The major difference is that power was able
to be restored quickly in areas of flooding that had overhead lines,
as compared with extended delays in areas that were undergrounded.
In a flooded area, it takes time for the flood waters to recede.
Specially trained technicians are also required to repair
underground conduits, wires and other equipment.
to a north end resident who has a home in an undergrounded Palm
Beach neighborhood, her experiences with extended power outages has
caused "black mold to grow in the house"!
is a known fact that Palm Beach has had historic flood events from
hurricanes and heavy rain storms. For the Town Council to declare
that we are only affected by wind events, is burying the truth!
is why Palm Beach maintains a "pump system"! It is
important to note that, according to the Town Manager, the pump
system went down during Irma.
incidents are occurring and will continue to happen throughout the
Project as contractors encounter problems beneath the ground that
are unable to be detected.
following facts are further proof why this conversion Project should
never take place. These facts confirm why the Kosberg/Scharf
Class-Action Lawsuit is so essential and must prevail against this
"Titanic" fated Project and prevent it from placing Palm
Beach residents and their properties at risk and in an irreversible,
inequitable financial position for the next 30 years.
Town Project Contractors in the north end have already had two
incidents when they struck gas pipes. Luckily for them, the first
two times were minor. After calling the Police, 911 and the Fire
Department, the residents on that street and in the surrounding area
were spared having to be evacuated.
is a given that this is just the beginning. Gas leaks, explosions,
evacuation and danger will be encountered as a result of the digging
and drilling, since there are no exact drawings of where things lie
under the earth. For a Project that is "non-essential",
this is a HIGH RISK SITUATION.
the onset of doing "exploratory" work on South Ocean
Boulevard in the Right of Way, the Town Project Contractors
struck and broke a water main pipe. It took weeks of digging and
finally, replacement of the water main pipe before the repair
was completed as a result of this incident.
the very southern part of Town, again on South Ocean Boulevard, when
the Town actually initiated the directional drilling for the
conduits, as they passed several condos, the Town Project's
Contractors struck and broke an underground ATT main landline. The
result was hundreds of residents were without service for more than
residents reported their phones being out, ATT said that the
underground cable that holds hundreds of wires was cut. This
required digging to find the main connection and then attempt to
also explained that a problem that will continue to be
encountered is that there is coral rock under the surface which
also diverts the conduit as it is being pushed through. It then can
cut other lines or strike pipes underground and cause damage. The
ATT Technician said that this is just the beginning of many more of
Without phone service, many residents, especially the elderly
population which is predominant in the condo/co-ops had no access to
emergency calls, such as 911! A tragedy could easily have occurred.
I spoke with ATT technicians who were repairing the problem that the
Town Project's Contractors caused. They said it was a huge effort
because the problem was underground and ATT had to dig down to find
the cable and make the repairs as best they could. They said that
they had to constantly pump water out of the hole and that now that
they had to make splices, the main line will be vulnerable to the
saltwater because it will be as if they undergrounded the utilities
laying in water.
The ATT technician said that when the phone service goes out with
overhead lines, they have technology where they can easily find it
and repair it. Now, if it is going to be undergrounded, that will no
longer exist and all the landline phone companies will have a
challenge finding the problem and getting at it.
Town Project's Contractors are causing hazardous conditions in the
residential neighborhoods, because the trucks, mounds of dirt and
signs have been placed where it is dangerous to drive in and out of
the driveways. The area where work is
being done near driveways has no freedom of access to A1A. The
situation that the Town and their Project Contractors have created
in this residential community is dangerous when using A1A/South
Ocean Blvd. Someone will be broadsided because no safety procedures
such as traffic police personnel have been instituted by the Town.
the Underground Utilities Task Force Meeting (UUTF) during a report
by Town Staff, that will be repeated at the Tuesday, October 10th
Town Council Meeting, mention was made that neighborhood
undergrounded areas like Everglades Island, did have a power outage
but the power came back on the Tuesday following Irma.
Town Staff also buried are two other significant facts. Both that
took place in the southern part of Town where there are overhead
poles and power lines that are not obstructed and entwined by
In the area of 3475 South Ocean Blvd., where the Town reported that
a line went down on Sunday, the downed line was immediately repaired
on that same Tuesday, as Everglades Island, and the power was
restored to that grid.
Most significantly, it was NOT reported by the Town Staff that
condo/co-ops at 2600, 2660, 2760, 2770, 2773 and the Ambassador
Hotel at 2730 S. Ocean Boulevard, with overhead power, DID NOT HAVE
A POWER OUTAGE. They merely had 5 flicker instances during the
storm, with 1-2 minute maximum flickers. A couple that remained at
2760, the Regency confirmed that they never lost power during or
after the storm and they watched the television, used their landline
phone and internet without any problem.
much for the success of underground utilities in the Town of Palm
Beach during Irma!
Town would suppress these facts rather than let them see the light
the reason for the Town to do this Project what UUTF member, Tom
Parker, declared at the October meeting? He announced, "...when
the process is finished, the primary reason for this was
primary reason for a Town-wide infrastructure Project should not be
about what some perceive as looking "nice", but must be to
protect the municipality and keep the residents and their properties
safe. That translates, for any responsible individual, to "the
fastest restoration of power." Even FPL and all the experts
acknowledge that, in flood prone areas, (like the Town of Palm
Beach), underground utilities cause longer power outages!
stands out to the Town's residents is, "Why are Town
Officials ignoring the dangers of undergrounding utilities on their
flood prone island and willing to risk everything in order to
continue on this disastrous path?"
can any Town Official who has taken the oath of office continue to
ignore the life and safety of their community by undertaking a
"non-essential" Project for the purpose of perceived
Utilities Cause Longer Power Outages!
Harvey and Irma have supplied us the undeniable proof that
undergrounding utilities in flood prone areas, such as barrier
islands, is a formula for disaster!
lessons from hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma can not be ignored.
What is paramount here is, "What is the safest, most
reliable power system?" IT IS NOT WHAT MAY LOOK NICE. Instead,
it is whatever is best for the life and safety of the general
population of any community.
areas like the flood prone, low elevation barrier island of the Town
of Palm Beach, the real issue is quick restoration of electric power
after heavy rains, flooding, winds, storm surge, rising sea levels
and stalled storms take place. The longer the power is out, the more
dangerous the situation becomes for health reasons, especially in
our tropical, hot, humid environment.
repeated by the news media, the reason people are
"evacuated" is because they are located in areas where
they can be at risk for "storm surge" and flooding. It was
mandated that residents in the entire Town of Palm Beach were
evacuated for Hurricane Irma!
Town of Palm Beach, which is located on a sandy barrier island,
continues to blindly ignore reality by proceeding forward with a
"Titanic" type Project by converting their utilities into
a Town-wide underground utilities community. Palm Beach is an island
with low elevation, high water table and historic flood issues. It
does not even require a hurricane in order to be dangerously flooded
in a rainstorm. More than 75% of the Town is on the FEMA Flood Maps
within the most severe Flood Hazard Zone, AE. Underground conduits
are NOT submarine cables and, instead, have connectors at each
building making them vulnerable to saltwater penetration, corrosion
are told by scientists that this is just the beginning of these
types of storms, so we better get ready and be proactive. Irma
spared much of the east coast, like those of us in Palm Beach
County, but the exception was the Florida Keys, which Irma hit head
on with winds and storm surge.
following is proof of why this Palm Beach Town-wide Underground
Utilities Project must NEVER take place.
September 18th, I received a detailed email message from a reader of
my Condo News articles. The single family homeowner, who lives in
Palm Beach, sent me a newsletter with proof about the impacts from
Irma upon Ocean Reef, a Key Largo community. Ocean Reef is a
community that partly undergrounded their utilities last year and
has poles with overhead lines in other areas. It describes the power
outage and restoration situation after Irma hit Key Largo.
to the newsletter, which was verified, electricity was being
restored through the overhead power lines "methodically",
while the undergrounded area was still without power on September
18th. It was necessary to wait until the flood waters receded in
order for this 1 year old underground utility system to have their
conduit/wires dug up, find the "breaks" and repair them,
prior to restoring the power to the undergrounded utility areas. The
newsletter also said that the underground conduits are "the
most difficult to fix and the last to be repaired.", because
the underground conduit/wires had "breaks".
longer it takes to restore power, the more of a health and safety
risk it becomes for residents. Also, there is the higher risk of
mold, which we know is life threatening.
validated news articles and news media demonstrate the proof of why
Palm Beach undergrounding utilities Town-wide is dangerous, unsafe
and unreliable and why the Town should instead, upgrade the entire
Town with hardened poles, coated wires and smart technology.
Miami Herald, 9/12/17, "Across
Florida... millions are without power after Hurricane Irma lashed
the region with winds over 100 miles per hour, heavy rains and
destructive storm surge." "... but even if U.S. utilities
put all power lines underground, they wouldn't necessarily be
safe from hurricanes, which have more than just high winds in their
arsenal." "Severe flooding and storm surge can also
put the grid out of commission after storms, according to NPR."
Washington Post, 9/13/17, This article
quotes Ted Kury, Director of Energy Studies for Public Utility
Research Center at the University of Florida, "It's kind of a
misstatement when folks say undergrounding power lines protects them
from damage. What it really does is insulates them from damage from
wind events and flying debris. But it makes them MORE SUSCEPTIBLE
to things like FLOODING and things like STORM SURGE. If you are in
an area where your biggest risk to the infrastructure is storm surge
and flooding, putting the lines underground can actually make them
more susceptible to damage and not less."
CNN, 9/14/17, "....routine
repairs to buried lines would TAKE AS MUCH AS 60% LONGER, since
problem areas are harder to find and the work requires digging
equipment." "...buried lines are expensive, vulnerable
to flooding and harder to repair." "Buried lines can
pose a flood risk..." "Besides their price tag, buried
lines aren't always the best fix in places prone to flooding,
including coastal zones threatened by storm surge." The
article goes on to say that "Subsurface flooding,
particularly by saltwater, can damage underground lines,
according to Entergy Corporation, which provides power service in
Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas."
The Palm Beach Post, 9/18/17, FPL
President & CEO, Eric Silagy said that, "... since Irma
began ... through every part of FPL's territory, the hardening
efforts have made restoration faster and saved money." With
smart technology, "... helps detect problems and restore
service faster. That's one reason the lights came back on quicker-
because FPL technicians often could rapidly pinpoint the reason for
the outage." The hardening and smart technology "allowed
for the restoration process to be a lot quicker and a lot
safer." "...underground, experts say is no
panacea..." "Flooding can damage underground lines, and
repairs cannot be made until water recedes. Trees that are uprooted
can pull up an underground system, as happened in Homestead, in
southern Miami-Dade County during Irma."
The Palm Beach Post, 9/19/17. The
article points out that the disadvantages to undergrounding
utilities "...are numerous." According to the Post
article, Quanta Technology in a report for Florida's
electric utilities found that in general undergrounding
electrical systems, "can be more difficult to find where the
failure is located. The cable must be dug up for repair." "Buried
lines can also result in power failures of longer duration and
more customers impacted." The Quanta report
significantly states that, "IN FACT, IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE
THAT UNDERGROUNDING AN EXISTING OVERHEAD SYSTEM IN A COASTAL AREA
MAY RESULT IN MORE HURRICANE DAMAGE AND LONGER RESTORATION TIMES FOR
Town of Palm Beach identified Jupiter Island, Gulf Stream and
Long Boat Key as "success stories" because they have
undergrounded. They touted they would have no power outages. I
contacted the Town Hall of each of these "success story"
Towns. I learned that each undergrounded Town had Town-wide power
outages during and after Irma. As of my phone call on the 18th, each
Town still had power outages. In conclusion, Palm Beach's acclaimed
"success stories" are really "POWER OUTAGE
proof of why the Town of Palm Beach needs to STOP this
Town-wide Underground Utilities Project NOW is startlingly
evident to any reasonable and responsible individual.
TOWN COUNCIL AND THEIR STAFF MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE WITH
THIS ILL-FATED PROJECT THAT WILL ENDANGER THE FUTURE LIFE AND
SAFETY OF PALM BEACH RESIDENTS AND THEIR HOMES!
Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit is the BEST recourse to
SUCCESSFULLY counter this Palm Beach Town-wide Underground Utilities
Beach UNDERWATER Utilities Project!!
would we all be now if the Town of Palm Beach utilities were
undergrounded and Harvey had hit Palm Beach instead of Texas?
News has shown that flooding of epic proportions is now wreaking
catastrophic disaster upon Texas. A Category 4 Hurricane came on
shore and for days on end Harvey, now a slow moving Tropical Storm
with historic flooding, is a disaster of enormous magnitude.
all the scientific data now confirming sea level rise, it appears
that the Town of Palm Beach, located on a sandy barrier island, is
caught in an "Outer Limits" type "Time-Warp"
with their bizarre quest to convert to Town-wide Underground
is inevitable that a Hurricane type Harvey will strike the Town of
Palm Beach with flooding and a storm surge sooner rather than later.
This is in addition to the rising sea-level, fair weather king
tides, the Town's low elevation and high water table.
anyone from Palm Beach watches the tragedy playing out in Texas,
they can't help thinking that if we get a storm a fraction the size
of Harvey and Palm Beach Island gets flooded and the Town is
converted to Town-wide underground utilities, the Town of Palm Beach
will suffer catastrophic losses! Mold damage alone will create
uninhabitable residences as the power will be out for weeks or
months until they are finally able to begin digging to fix the
underground power lines.
Sandy hit the NY metro area, those within the suburbs with overhead
lines had power restored in a week or less, while some of the
buildings in New York with their underground power lines were
without power for 3-4 weeks.
question here is why, on a flood-prone barrier island, a Town such
as Palm Beach ignores State-of-the-Art modern technology and blindly
continues on their ill-fated attempts to convert to underground
utilities Town-wide? Will they ever
realize that what a few believe to be "aesthetically"
pleasing, is certainly NOT more important than life and safety and
the inevitable reality of Palm Beach being struck by similar
hurricanes because it is right in the most severe FEMA Flood Hazard
would competent leaders of a municipality not step back and
recognize that they need to protect constituents throughout the
Town. In doing so, Town leaders need to work with FPL to install
hardened poles Town-wide that withstand 145 mph winds and flooding.
These hardened poles should have coated wires and smart switch
technology and will protect all the properties much better than the
planned conversion to underground utilities, which would only become
"Underwater Utilities" with useless ground-level Utility
Boxes and will bring long-term power outages to this flood-prone
the August Town of Palm Beach Retirement Board Meeting, it was
unearthed that the Town of Palm Beach is in serious debt to the tune
of nearly $100 million in Unfunded Pension Liabilities. With the
magnitude of these Unfunded Pension Liabilities why would the Town
attempt to undertake the largest infrastructure Project that Palm
Beach has ever known? With all this enormous debt accrued, Palm
Beach Officials are still planning to move forward with a Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project that is unnecessary, unsafe and
unreliable and will cost over $152 million. Yet, the Town keeps
spending for aesthetics purposes.
since July 28th, 2017, the Town of Palm Beach is facing a strong
Class-Action Lawsuit, the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit! This
Class-Action Lawsuit has a choke hold on the "Special
Assessment" that Palm Beach plans to use in order to repay its
financial loans and bonds that are necessary to make this Town-wide
Underground Utilities multi-million dollar Project come to fruition.
addition, the Town residents do not realize that the "Special
Assessment" monies may not be able to be used to pay back the
reserve monies, which the Town borrowed from its Reserve Funds to
start Phase 1.
Town plan to underground utilities began as far back as 2003, when
Palm Beach Officials and the current Town Manager, who was at that
time the Deputy Town Manager, began plotting to convert to
underground utilities on a Town-wide basis. Over the years, it
appears there was never any research into the risks involved on a
flood-prone barrier island. Officials ignored State-of-the-Art
advancements in smart technology and hardened hurricane flood-proof
poles, coated wires and smart switches.
one constant goal was that the Town wanted to convert to underground
utilities for aesthetics and have the Project paid for by
Underground Utilities is clearly not a necessity. It was initiated
originally for what some perceived as "aesthetic"
perception of "I want it, so let others pay for it." This
unnecessary Project is now head-to-head with the most powerful
Class-Action Lawsuit, supported by Town property owners that it has
the Town's desperate efforts, the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action
Lawsuit is based on FACTS. This means that even with Town Officials
and their attorneys' attempts to dismiss or ignore this lawsuit it
is threatening the Town's ability to finance the Project through
top of that, there is the ever growing awareness by its citizenry as
to the risks and flaws and inequity of this ill-fated Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project and the "Special Assessment
following contains significant information you need to be aware of:
Property owners have received in their mail the Proposed Property
Tax Notice, which was processed prior to the filing of the Kosberg/Scharf
Class-Action Lawsuit. It shows the Town's planned non-tax deductible
"Underground Utilities Assessment." Do not be alarmed,
THIS NOTICE IS NOT A BILL!
The Prepayment Notices we have been receiving from the Town are
NOTICES, NOT BILLS! These notices do not require you to pay them.
The Town's warning to hurry and prepay because of a "Deadline
Approaching", is just a SCARE TACTIC. The Town has admitted
that their deadline is flexible and subject to change! The Town has
publicized that "Assessment prepayments will be held in
escrow until current litigation is resolved." Therefore,
the deadline is misleading. It is set for a Project that may never
happen. What benefit does it serve to prepay and keep your monies
tied up in an interest free "Escrow Account" that could be
difficult to retrieve! During the years of waiting for the
litigation to be resolved, you may sell your condo/co-op/house! This
means the new owner is then entitled to the monies that you prepaid
30 years in advance for a Project that never took place.
The "Escrow Account" makes the monies unavailable for the
We pay our Property Taxes annually. Property Taxes are tax
deductible. They are Ad-Valorem, based on your property value.
Special Assessments are NOT tax deductible. I would NEVER think of
paying my Property Taxes for 30 years in one lump sum. Who knows
where I will be in 30 years, or where I will be living. Therefore,
why would I prepay a 30 year lump sum of money on a non-tax
deductible Special Assessment?
Easements: In Phase 1, the Town is resorting to misinformation and
inaccurate statements in order to coerce and gain Easements from
Town is misleading Condos/Co-ops who have no guarantees that
additional equipment will not be placed in the Right-of-Way, because
it is not stipulated in the Easement agreement.
the south-end with the huge boxes that are to be located in the most
severe category of the FEMA Flood Hazard Maps, without adequate
height above the Flood Hazard Zone, there will be hazardous and
dangerous exposure for the property owners who grant Easements on
Town is going to replace perfectly functional Water Main Pipes in
the south-end in order to install the electrical conduits in the
Right-of-Way along South Ocean Blvd. The replacement of water main
pipes has no bearing on whether or not an Easement has been granted
by the property owner.
cost of this will be shifted to the Town property owners. In
addition, there will be mishaps which will cause disruptions to
drinking, sanitation and irrigation water as result of the Town's
area of the Town is densely populated and has thousands of
apartments with thousands of residents who will be placed at risk of
life and safety due to an unnecessary Project that the Town is
attempting to impose on its residents.
all the risks involved, I suggest we rename the Project, "TOWN
OF PALM BEACH UNDERWATER UTILITIES PROJECT"!!
Class-Action Lawsuit Major Upset To Palm Beach!
most important recent revelation that the Kosberg/ Scharf
Class-Action Lawsuit has caused, IS THAT IT IS CURRENTLY BLOCKING
THE PALM BEACH TOWN-WIDE UNDERGROUNDING PROJECT FINANCING METHODS!
This is possibly because, due to this litigation, it has the lenders
holding back while the lawsuit and the allegations are in effect.
a statement by the Town of Palm Beach's Town Manager, the Town wants
the Court to render a decision sooner rather than later, so it will
"....FREE-UP the short-term financing." This
means that the Line-of-Credit is currently not available to the
Town. That would also apply to the Revenue and General Obligation
(GO) Bonds, while this lawsuit is unresolved.
to the Press Release issued by the law firm, Weiss, Handler &
Cornwell, P.A., the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit was filed on
Friday, July 28, 2017, to stop the Town of Palm Beach from charging
residential and commercial property owners in the Town $90,000,000
in Special Assessments to pay for the controversial Town-wide
Underground Utility Project. The lawsuit, filed in Palm Beach
Circuit Court, alleges the Special Assessments are an illegal tax
and deprive property owners of due process of law under the Florida
Constitution. The lawsuit also challenges the legality of short-term
financing loans the Town intends to take out initially to pay for
us review the fact that the Town withdrew "Emergency
Reserve" monies of approximately $2.5 million in order to put a
"shovel in the ground" to begin the Phase 1 north and
south construction. Now that the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action
Lawsuit is challenging the financing and the Special Assessments,
there is no guarantee that this amount of Emergency Reserve monies
will be reimbursed.
if with the predicted active hurricane season, there is a major
storm with damage, those Emergency Reserve monies which are needed
for storm damage will have already been withdrawn in order to pay
for the start of the Undergrounding Project, where does that leave
be alarmed by the "shovel in the ground." The Town is
facing a VERY STRONG LAWSUIT! This Class-Action Lawsuit will prevent
the Town from having the funding mechanisms available that would be
repayable with Special Assessments. The reality is the Town may
start the Project but the question that follows is, what will the
source of funding be without the Special Assessments?
addition, the Proposed Property Tax Notice that is sent out annually
in August and that you will soon receive, was prepared prior to the
filing of the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit. It is only a
"Proposed" Notice, NOT a bill!
is clear that the Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit, by seeking
temporary and permanent injunctive relief, has put financial
restraints upon the Town of Palm Beach and the progress of their
is probably the Strongest Lawsuit that has ever challenged the Town
of Palm Beach! It should be expected, regardless of the
substantiated facts that have been exposed by the Kosberg/Scharf
Class-Action Lawsuit, that the Town will fight back.
Class-Action Lawsuit deserves our support and continued confidence
in its positive outcome.
on the LINK to read the entire Kosberg/Scharf Class-Action Lawsuit.
Class-Action Lawsuit Hits Palm Beach!
NEW CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE TOWN OF PALM BEACH
was filed by the law firm of Weiss, Handler & Cornwell two days
after they dropped the referendum lawsuit on behalf of Carol Kosberg.
Class-Action Lawsuit is striking a multi-arsenal loaded massive blow
at Palm Beach's Town-wide Project for Undergrounding Utilities.
It is aimed right at the underpinnings of the foundation of this
Lawsuit Class Representatives thus far are comprised of two Town
property owners, north-end businessman, Michael Scharf and south-end
resident, Carol Kosberg. The Class-Action Complaint vs. The Town of
Palm Beach, Dorothy Jacks, Palm Beach County Property Appraiser and
Anne M. Gannon, Palm Beach County Tax Collector.
this lawsuit, Kosberg and Scharf's roles as "Class
Representatives" are described. Carol Kosberg and Michael
Scharf "bring this class action ...... on behalf of themselves
and all others similarly situated.... ." They represent
"...all property owners whose property is or was subject to the
Special Assessments and liens imposed by Resolution 100-2017 of the
Town of Palm Beach."
lawsuit declares that Class Representatives Scharf and Kosberg,
"...will fairly and adequately protect and represent the
interests of each member of the class because their claims are
similar or identical to that of each class member, the Class
Representatives have no interest which is adverse to any class
member; the Class Representatives, as owners of property subject to
Special Assessments, have a financial interest in this cause and
will litigate vigorously to obtain a successful result for
themselves and other similarly situated; and the Class
Representatives are aware of the fiduciary duties of a class
representative and that the claims of each Class member are entitled
to equal dignity with their claims."
IS A "ONE TOWN" "TOWN-WIDE" CLASS-ACTION
the Town-wide Undergrounding Utility Project, the Town expects to
use Special Assessments to pay for the short-term finance
Line-of-Credit, Revenue Bonds and GO Bonds. Block the Special
Assessments and you have cut off the life-support for this ill-fated
Town-wide Underground Utilities Project!
property owner who would now consider granting an Easement to the
Town for a Project with this Legal Challenge would be extremely
naïve and uninformed. It would mean giving up your property and
rights for absolutely no reason because granting an Easement for a
Project that will most likely never come to fruition, means that you
have given away your property permanently.
the Town "put a shovel in the ground"? Possibly! How can
the Town assess the property owners in light of this powerful
Class-Action Lawsuit? Without Special Assessments, how will the Town
pay off the millions of dollars to bring this Town-wide Project to
the planned goal of completion?
are numerous and indisputable grounds cited in this lawsuit. The
following are some excerpts from the lawsuit to give you a flavor of
the depth and complexity of this strong Legal Challenge:
It challenges "the validity of Special Assessments"
"imposed by the Town on property owners..."
seeks "declaratory and temporary and permanent injunctive
also challenges that that the Special Assessments do not provide a
"special benefit to the assessed properties" and that
since the Special Assessments are not "properly apportioned
among the assessed properties", therefore it is
"...invalid..." and "...an illegal tax."
requests, "...the Court should declare the Special Assessments,
the financing and the Town Council Resolutions on which they are
based invalid...... mandatorily enjoin" (instruct) "the
Town to remove the liens of record, award the Plaintiffs" (Kosberg,
Scharf and all class members) "class damages in the amount of
all monies collected pursuant to the charges with interest, and
award reasonable attorneys' fees and costs."
"The Property Appraiser is charged with preparing the tax rolls
for the property owners/class members. The tax rolls will include
the Special Assessments."
"The Tax Collector is the billing and collection agent for the
Town in that she will include the Special Assessment for each
property owner/class member in the county-wide tax bills."
The lawsuit challenges that the assessment methodology is
"arbitrary", that "each parcel of affected property
was then arbitrarily assigned safety, reliability and
aesthetic..." "special benefit" components. Most
significantly, "There does not exist a logical relationship
between the Project and the benefit to the assessed
addition, "The Town Council's legislative determinations were
unsupported by competent substantial evidence and were
The lawsuit declares, "....The Town's apportionment methodology
is invalid and arbitrary" and the Special Assessments are
The lawsuit alleges that "As set forth in the Objections, the
properties upon which the Special Assessments were imposed will not
receive any actual, physical, material, and quantifiable special
benefit from undergrounding. Therefore, the Special Assessments are
an improper effort to take Kosberg's and Scharf's properties and the
property of each Class member without due process of law under the
Florida Constitution, Article I, Section 9, and/or is an illegal
It also states that "Kosberg, Scharf, and the Class members
will suffer imminent and irreparable injury ....."
"...will be irreparably harmed."
It contains reports by three expert
witnesses. One of these witnesses is Dr. Robert Brown, an esteemed
qualified expert on the reliability of distribution systems during
major weather events. Among his credentials Dr. Brown was hired by
ALL of the electrical utilities in the State to do a study on
undergrounding in Florida, as previously described by Kosberg/Scharf
Class Action Counsel, William Berger.
Dr. Brown's extensive 50 page expert report, Dr. Brown stated,
"Underground conversion can actually be detrimental in areas
subject to storm surge damage." "Underground conversion in
areas subject to storm surge actually results in worse reliability
as it relates to major weather events."
his "Flood Zone Assessment" Chapter, Dr. Brown states,
"Much of the Town of Palm Brach is currently categorized by
FEMA as Flood Zone A" or (AE). "...the point is that a
high percentage of the Town of Palm Beach is subject to storm
surge..." "From a reliability perspective, the parts of
Palm Beach in Flood Zone A are the worst possible areas to convert
overhead distribution utilities to underground."
know that 75% or more of the Town is within a "Special Flood
Hazard Zone". For example, in the south-end along South Ocean
Boulevard, the entire area that would be undergrounded with
conduits, wires and on-ground utility boxes are completely in FEMA
Flood Hazard Zone AE. The majority of the rest of the Town is just
as bad and in many cases even worse. For example, Seaspray Ave.
closer to Lake Trail is entirely in FEMA Flood Hazard AE, the
streets, land and even the homes!
Palm Beach Property Owners need to thank the two champions who have
stepped forward thus far, Carol Kosberg and Michael Scharf who are
the Class Representatives in the Town-wide Class-Action Lawsuit.
tight folks and watch the fireworks! Things just started to get
interesting and they are about to heat up rather quickly now!
Outcry Defies Palm Beach Town Council!
appears that the attempt to hold a Public Hearing in the Town of
Palm Beach on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, beginning at 5:01pm in the
early evening, with only legally required advertisements, was not
enough to keep away the throngs of angry protesting taxpayers in the
dead of summer!
occurred was quite telling in the overflowing MASSIVE PUBLIC OUTCRY
of approximately 200 upset and frustrated Palm Beach property owners
from the north-end, mid-town and the south-end of the Town, who
attended an inconveniently scheduled Public Hearing in the Town
fact, the Town Hall Chambers were so packed with Palm Beach property
owners that, due to overcapacity, the Police were holding a crowd of
Palm Beachers standing in the vestibule and would not allow them
seat in the Council Chambers was filled and property owners were
standing by the walls! The Council members appeared disengaged and
totally disinterested as the multitude of public comments took
"Kangaroo Court" was created because the Town Council is
attempting to quietly railroad through 30 years of non-tax
deductible Special Assessments.
these Special Assessments are legally challenged, they will be
levied on the property owners and will finance the Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project.
living in Palm Beach knows that the Town has worked really hard to
make it appear that a Town-wide Underground Utilities Project is a
"fait accompli." The Town Manager went so far as to
verbalize, at a Council meeting, that, "As we stand today with
our back-up plan, we can not be stopped." The reality is that
this statement is a "SCARE TACTIC", NOT FACT! Without
the means to finance this multi-million dollar project with Special
Assessments, the Project could "put a shovel in the
ground" but would NOT have sufficient financing to bring this
Underground Utilities Project to reality.
fact that the Town has retained consultants and contractors does not
guarantee anything, especially without having the annual Special
Assessments to fund it as would be necessary.
the Public Hearing, that lasted almost 3 hours, approximately 50
Town property owners lined up during the public comment period and
made their objections known. It is important to report here, that
the Town Council President ordered the Police to remove a female
property owner who during this public comment period, voiced an
objection he did not want to hear! The Town Council President
threatened that, if the audience applause continues, whoever was
clapping would be removed from the Town Council Chambers. This only
reaffirmed the opposition by the audience.
of the most important public comments was made by attorney, William
Berger. He spoke on behalf of Palm Beach property owner, Carol
Kosberg. Mr. Berger identified himself as an attorney from Weiss,
Handler & Cornwell, P.A. and immediately explained how their
objections were based on the detailed reports of three qualified
experts with impeccable credentials.
were told that the objections were supported by expert opinions
within "Kosberg's Appendix to Objection to Special
Berger explained that the expert reports show that, "undergrounding
confers no 'special benefit' on my client's property or the other
attorney also said that the "Special Assessment will be an
illegal tax and undergrounding will endanger lives and property and
make recovery from a storm even more difficult, hazardous and
Berger asserts that "... for the Town of Palm Beach, ...
burying live electrical conduits in this barrier island community
can prove disastrous during a storm and in the efforts to recover
from its aftermath."
the Objection documents submitted, which are now part of the Public
Record, it states quite clearly that, "The Special
Assessment is invalid as to Kosberg's Property and all other
property within the Town subject to the Special Assessments.... for
all of the reasons stated in the materials contained in the Appendix
to this Objection..... Kosberg also adopts and incorporates by
reference all objections to the Special Assessments filed or
otherwise submitted by any other property owner."
my opinion, the Kosberg Objections and Appendix represent a preamble
to a lawsuit. They are more than mere objections. In addition, the
two attorneys representing Carol Kosberg were present at the Public
Hearing as well as their court reporter who was working during the
entire Public Hearing proceeding.
is evident that Kosberg and her attorneys will shortly be filing a
NEW LAWSUIT against the Town of Palm Beach. There may also be
additional lawsuits filed against the Town. That is what happens
when the actions of Town Officials do NOT represent the best
interests of all their constituents.
TOWN NEVER ALLOWED THE PROPERTY OWNERS TO VOTE ON WHETHER THEY
WANTED TO UNDERGROUND UTILITIES TOWN-WIDE OR NOT. The 2016
Referendum vote was to finance the Project ONLY! That is
"Taxation without Representation."
Palm Beach Town Council implemented the Special Assessment process
as their approach to finance the Project. Because lawsuits have
prevented the Town from issuing General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds, the
Town is attempting to implement a short-term financing method, a
line of credit, to be paid back with Special Assessments. The Town
is also planning to issue Revenue Bonds paid back by Special
Assessments to pay off the line of credit and to finance the
remainder of the $90 million in case they can't get to the G.O.
Bonds. If the Town can eventually issue G.O. Bonds, the Town plans
to retire the more expensive Revenue Bonds and to finance the
Project with G.O. Bonds paid back by the Special Assessments. Therefore,
in order to implement and to finance the Project, 30 years of annual
Special Assessment payments will be required to be paid by Palm
Beach taxpayers FOR AN UNNECESSARY PROJECT!
YOUR SEAT BELT AND BE PATIENT.
of how the Town makes it appear, this matter is NOT OVER. In the
words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over until it's over."
only thing that is "inevitable" is, "MORE LAWSUITS
Public Records show Town has been granted ONLY TWO
Condo/Co-op Easements, La Palma & Beach Point. These Records
contradict claims by Town that MANY South-End Condo/Co-ops have
granted Easements to date. Is this misinformation or DELIBERATE
DECEPTION by the Town?
Utility Box is what will be installed in the south-end. Will 100 of
these high voltage boxes be an "Improvement" or a
are so many issues with Town-wide Undergrounding of Utilities
Project that to categorize this ill-fated and dangerous project as
"An Improvement" is an insult to the intelligence of the
Palm Beach Property Owners. In reality, when all the facts are
considered, the Town of Palm Beach is planning to implement a
Project that could cause the downfall of the Town of Palm Beach!
the urgency of all these issues reached the pinnacle of
decision-making when all Town of Palm Beach Property Owners were
mailed "Notices of Hearing to Impose and Provide for Collection
of Non-Ad Valorem Assessments" for 30 year non-tax deductible
"annual assessment for the design, acquisition, construction
and installation of the Underground Utility Improvement..." In
these notices mailed to Palm Beach Property Owners on 6/21/17, the
Town changed the name of the Project to be an
"Improvement." The Town Public
Hearing is to be held on July 12, 2017 at 5:01 pm in the Town
Council Chambers for the purpose of public comment.
unclear to many layman in this notice, is the fact that if any
Property Owner decides to appeal the Town's decision to levy this
assessment and continue to push forward with this Project regardless
of any facts proving its disastrous consequences to the community
"...you will need a record of the proceeding and may need to
ensure that a verbatim record is made including the testimony and
evidence upon which the appeal is to be made." Those residents
that carefully reviewed this had various angry responses to the
Town; one such resident said that "Palm Beach is running a
Palm Beach Property Owner, who sent in an objection letter for the
Town of Palm Beach's Town-wide Underground Utility Project, wrote to
the Town: "I object very strongly to this assessment as I
consider the project hazardous and a danger to the community, rather
than an improvement."
Beach resident, Jere Zenko, wrote to the Town due to her concern
over one page of the confusing language in the Notice to the
Property Owners. Mrs. Zenko gave me her permission to reveal her
question and the response she received from the Town's Manager. Here
are excerpts from the email correspondence that show the deliberate
misleading and overt manipulation that the Town is engaged in with
its Property Owners.
Zenko asked, "As to the verbiage to the Line which states
'Initial prepayment' amount.... I did not like the verbiage...
INITIAL implies there could be 'a request/demand for more than one
payment.~ I asked who insisted that the word 'Initial' be inserted?
Answer: 'the lawyers'....It leaves open the possibility that with
cost overruns, contract change orders, "add on(s) etc. that the
LINE ITEM will? /could be? Increased and that there will more than a
'one time cost'. It is a very large 'COULD'."
Mrs. Zenko succinctly concluded, "Put another way it leaves
those who choose the 'prepayment option' of being stuck for any
change orders, cost overruns, etc...
Notice also that those who do not want to pre-pay have 'total' at
the start of the line item...." It appears that any prepayment
to the Town of Palm Beach is like signing a blank check!
response to the duplicitous language used throughout the notice
document, meant to confuse the property owner to the point of
complacency, the Town Manager replied that,
"The reason it says 'Initial' prepayment amount is because
there is the potential for multiple prepayment amounts as the
financing process unfolds over time.... the financing sequences can
unfold with potentially more expensive prepayment amounts."!
the "Initial" prepayment that the Town is attempting to
use to entice property owners to pay ahead of time is the
"supposed full amount and a discount." There are so many
twists and turns to the "Initial", "Adjusted",
"Revised Adjusted", "New Adjusted" pre-payments
that it is mindboggling!!
is important to review a few of the facts and negative consequences
to this Unnecessary Town-wide Underground Utilities debacle.
is the little known fact that the Town will exercise its right that
anyone who does not pay their special assessment, regardless of
their permanent residency, will "... result in a loss of
title" which means you will lose your home to the Town of Palm
implementation of a 30 year annual non-tax deductible Special
Assessment which will be added to your tax bill.
a Town Special Assessment for Undergrounding of Utilities in Palm
Beach that will be OBSOLETE before the planned 10 year Project is
has been written about the DANGER that will be created by the
installation of Underground Utilities on the flood prone barrier
island of Palm Beach.
new FEMA Flood Maps identify 75% of the Town of Palm Beach as a
"Special Flood Hazard Area."
Town of Palm Beach is in a "Special Flood Hazard Area"
which will accelerate the CORROSION of both its underground conduits
and the equipment contained in the on-ground Utility Boxes. The
Underground Conduits are vulnerable to SALTWATER INTRUSION because
the conduits have connection splices. This Underground Utilities
system will be paid for by special assessments for 30 years which
will be beyond the life expectancy of Underground Conduits.
installation of approximately 100 six feet tall, high voltage,
combustible, industrial style Utility Boxes that will be installed
on the front lawns of our residential buildings in the south-end,
which are within the 4 mile area of South Ocean Boulevard/State Road
need to understand the facts and make a visualization of whether
converting to an Underground Utilities Project is an
"Improvement" or is a disaster that will create an
environment which will threaten our safety and quality of life!
FEMA Flood Maps Confront Palm Beach Undergrounding!
FEMA Flood Maps will mean ELEVATED platform bases for electric
utility boxes in the Town of Palm Beach!
Town of Palm Beach faces major issues as they continue on the risky,
dangerous path to Town-wide Undergrounding of their Utilities.
new FEMA FLOOD MAPS and Town Flood Plain Administrator confirmed, at
the May 2017 Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Town meeting, that
"...75% of the Town is in the 'Special Flood Hazard
is time for Palm Beach residents to wake-up and realize the stunning
significance of what it means to be in a "Special Flood Hazard
new information is overwhelming! It diminishes and defuses any
public relations campaign by the Town to make it appear that this
Town-wide Undergrounding Project will proceed as planned!
Officials' stubborn refusal to recognize the major issues that will
arise from being in a 75% flood hazard zone area will result in Palm
Beach's electric, cable and telephone utility systems being
"Underwater" rather than "Underground" during
the 30 years that this outdated, obsolete project will be paid off
by Town residents.
website states, "Following recent hurricanes, we've found that
areas that took the longest to repair were generally those served by
underground facilities still flooded days after the storm passed.
Damage and corrosion of underground electrical systems often shows
up days or even months later, causing additional outages and
inconvenience to customers."
in their "Principles and Practices for the Design and
Construction of Flood Resistant Building Utility Systems",
states that utility system replacement or upgrades must
"meet floodplain management regulations and building code
states in their P-936 7/13 publication, "FULLY
SEALING ALL... ELECTRICAL UTILITIES IS NOT POSSIBLE."
also states, "Unless placed in
dry-flood proofed areas or ELEVATED, pad mounted transformers and
switch gear... will remain vulnerable to damage from a design flood
or weaker flood event..."
new FEMA FLOOD MAPS PROVE THAT THIS CONVERSION UNDERGROUND UTILITIES
PROJECT DOES NOT PROTECT THE WIRING OR UTILITY BOXES ON THIS PALM
BEACH LOW-ELEVATION FLOOD-PRONE BARRIER ISLAND SURROUNDED BY
SALTWATER AND SALT AIR!
Town Council, Officials and Staff continue to insist that they are
NOT required to raise the electric utility boxes the sufficient
height above the base flood plain plan and instead, will risk the
entire system by placing the boxes on 6" platforms.
high voltage utility boxes will be flooded and the conduits with the
buried wiring, which need "taps" or seams, to offshoot to
the buildings and homes which by nature are only water resistant not
waterproof. Saltwater and salt air will seep into these utility
boxes and conduits and will quickly corrode and create explosion
hazards! This combustion produces the possibility for electrocution!
the 1/7/16 Ordinance, Rules and Standard (ORS) Town meeting, chaired
by then Council Member, Penny Townsend and the Town's Flood Plain
Administrator and the Town Building Director, William Bucklew made
some significant revelations that the Town should be held
this ORS meeting in 2016 regarding the FEMA Flood Zone, prior
to the vote on the Referendum, Council member Townsend and Town
Administrator Bucklew agreed that "If part of a building is in
a flood zone, the building is considered to be in the flood hazard
areas." Ms. Townsend then said to Mr. Bucklew, "THIS WILL
HAVE IMPACTS ON THE UNDERGROUNDING, BECAUSE THE STANDARDS WILL
Flood Administrator Bucklew responded, "IT WILL CHANGE and the
other thing is... again this is an FPL issue, BUT
I AM SURE THEY WANT THEIR TRANSFORMER ABOVE THE BASE FLOOD
ELEVATION! SO IN THE EVENT WE DO GET SOME FLOODING, THEIR
TRANSFORMERS ARE NOT..."
Townsend said, "LOW STREETS WHERE THEIR ELEVATION, I CAN THINK
OF SOME OF THE STREETS WHERE I'VE LIVED, WHERE THE ELEVATION OF THE
STREET IS 4FT. AND THE TRANSFORMERS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE AT A
MINIMUM OF 8FT."
Townsend continued with, "THE BASE OF
THAT TRANSFORMER, SO ITS GOING TO HAVE TO BE SITTING ON A 4FT.
Bucklew replied , "I AGREE AND THAT IS
SOMETHING I RAISED AT A COUPLE OF MEETINGS WITH THE UNDERGROUNDING
AND WITH MR. PAGE AND MR. BRADFORD. THE ELEVATION OF UTILITIES,...
THAT IS A REQUIREMENT OF FEMA."
at the May 2017 Town P&Z meeting a Town resident asked Mr.
Bucklew if the utility boxes, which according to Town Officials will
all rest on a mere 6" platform on streets and Town areas that
are below the base flood plain, are vulnerable and unsafe and will
the boxes elevation be raised? Bucklew's
response was that utility boxes are excluded from the FEMA
requirements that were being discussed and would not be raised in
those flood hazard areas anymore than the 6" standard platform.
FACTS ARE: FEMA REQUIREMENTS FOR BUILDINGS, AIR-CONDITIONERS,
GENERATORS, ETC. ARE MANDATED TO BE ELEVATED ABOVE THE ABOVE THE
BASE FLOOD PLAIN. The new FEMA Flood Maps require an increase
in this elevation! Water knows NO "exceptions", such as
utility boxes and buried utility conduits.
addition, the question is "If the
utility boxes are below the regulation requirements, does this
negatively impact the Town's FEMA insurance compliance requirements
and will this also have a negative impact on individual property
owner's Insurance when companies realize that his equipment was
installed without any method of mitigation?"
also is the dangerous situation being created by Palm Beach in the
south end of Town, where Town Officials plan to install almost 100
high voltage, hazardous approximately 6 ft. tall mostly switch
boxes, some transformers and capacitors and other on-ground
apparatus, concentrated in little more than a 4 mile area on South
concentrated number of high voltage boxes that are highly vulnerable
to corrosion and combustion makes this entire area of Town
comparable to ticking time bombs!
CONDO or CO-OP SHOULD AGREE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TO GRANT AN
EASEMENT TO THE TOWN.
FAMILY HOMEOWNERS SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE GRANTING ANY EASEMENTS.
to the Easement Agreement document given to a condo/co-op which
shows it is for commercial/business for a mere $1. the undersigned
is granting FPL, ATT, Comcast, The Town of Palm Beach,
"together with the affiliates, licensees, agents, successors
and assigns of the above named entities A NON-EXCLUSIVE EASEMENT
FOREVER for construction,.......with the right to reconstruct,
improve, ADD TO, ENLARGE, CHANGE THE VOLTAGE as well as THE SIZE
OF,....within the easement...."
important the Easement Agreement states that, "...the above
named entities, and their affiliates, licensees, agents, successors
and assigns, to attach or place wires to or within any facilities
hereunder and lay cable and conduit within the easement area and to
operate the same for communications purposes, THE RIGHT OF INGRESS
AND EGRESS TO THE EASEMENT AREA AT ALL TIMES, THE RIGHT TO CLEAR THE
LAND AND KEEP IT CLEARED OF ALL TREES, UNDERGROWTH AND OTHER
OBSTRUCTIONS WITHIN THE EASEMENT AREA. .....and further grants to
the fullest extent the undersigned has the power to grant , if at
all, the rights hereinabove granted the Easement Area, over, along,
under and across the roads, streets or highways adjoining or through
said Easement Area."
75% of the Town of Palm Beach is in a "Special Flood Hazard
property owner should willingly give an easement to the Town under
TOWN SHOULD GO FORWARD WITH A TOWN-WIDE UNDERGROUNDING UTILITIES
PROJECT UNDER THESE CONDITIONS!
Denial Puts Palm Beach Residents At Risk!
photo is FACT, NOT FICTION!
of FACT by FPL on their website:
systems face outages from trees collapsing on above-ground
transformers or switch boxes, and/or from tree root systems
uprooting buried cable when trees topple."
Palm Beach Town Council needs to separate "fact from
fiction" before its willful denial of the negative quality of
life impacts from Town-wide Undergrounding of Utilities becomes an
recently as on May 30th, in NYC, 5 explosions from underground
equipment took place on 1st Ave. between 70th to 73rd Streets. Fire
was shooting out of manhole covers. A building was evacuated as a
March 16, 2017, U.S. News and World Report published that
"Authorities say manhole covers were sent flying by explosions
resulting from an underground electrical fire in Sioux City,
Iowa." The article continued with, "Assistant Fire Chief
Dan Cougill says the fire stemmed from a system failure and that a
pressure buildup caused the explosions." Power was knocked out
in the area.
Teller, a licensed electrical professional engineer with 30 years of
experience in municipal engineering and undergrounding, says
"Converting to underground utilities on a flood-prone barrier
island has great safety risks. Underground wires are subject to
corrosion from saltwater intrusion and the gases that form, which
put the entire electrical power system at risk." As a result,
the equipment degrades quickly and creates explosions, as well as
shortening the 30 year life span of these underground utilities.
South end of the Town of Palm Beach is a densely populated area of
multi-story condo/co-ops within about 4 miles. In this area the
Project calls for 96 to 98 approximately 6ft. square combustible,
high-voltage, (Switch, Capacitor and Transformer) industrial style
is important to know that the majority of the 96-98 boxes will be
Switch boxes, not Transformers. Switch boxes are not permitted to be
concealed with landscaping. Only transformer boxes are allowed to
have landscaping on three sides. It is impossible to conceal any
6ft. square box. Significant to note that, according to utility
requirements, the Switch boxes need up to 20ft by 20ft of space and
must be kept clear from landscaping.
Town is misleading the public with their continual claim that if
condos/co-ops grant an easement, then these 6ft. hideous metal
eyesores situated on a 20ft. by 20ft. space, will blend in. In fact,
according to Mr. Teller, these Switch and Capacitor boxes "can
not be blocked or landscaped in the front or back" and need
space on the sides.
experienced municipal electrical engineer, Mr. Teller, further
explained that these huge boxes: "Must
be totally open for a truck with men to drive up to it and space for
a crane to lift and move the equipment." These enormous utility
boxes near multi-story buildings can not be sufficiently hidden from
view, especially since there are almost 100 within a 4 mile stretch.
Regardless of whether there are boxes on the front lawn of one
property vs. another, entire segments of Town are at risk and this
will devalue everyone’s property values.
of all the safety issues that are unearthed, the Town continues to
ignore the alarming evidence in the nation-wide news of underground
utilities causing explosions and electrocution possibilities which
create health, safety and welfare issues much greater than anything
that has ever existed before. Not only is this perilous but property
values will plummet as a result of these dangerous industrial size
eyesore utility boxes that will disfigure once beautiful properties.
is because all of this high voltage hazardous equipment will be on
ground level, close to residences and to anyone who walks, cycles or
drives by. These boxes will be connected to the buried wiring and
conduits that are not that far below the surface and are vulnerable
on this flood prone barrier island to salt water.
Teller explains that with these huge high-voltage utility boxes that
need enough electricity to supply these multi-story densely
populated residential buildings, "there is only a cover of a
thin sheet of metal between this dangerous voltage and the outside
environment." He says that it is not
at all the same as any equipment within a residential building,
which he says is not as high-voltage, because it is only for one
building and it is encased in thick cement enclosure. This is not
done for outside boxes of electrical equipment.
also explains that "...the hot humid salty air and saltwater
speed up the corrosion process, especially when you are on a barrier
island surrounded by saltwater, which heats up the equipment and
causes explosions." In the Switch utility boxes, "...the
corrosion can cause a system fault overload. Switch gear has killed
people when they have come close to it." "You can walk up
to or be within the area of any of these three types of utility
boxes when this explosion takes place, or just be a victim of the
stated in FPL’s Q&A, "Following recent hurricanes, we’ve
found that areas that took the longest to repair were generally
those served by underground facilities still flooded days after the
storm passed. Damage and corrosion of underground electrical systems
often shows up days or even months later, causing additional outages
and inconvenience to customers."
also states, "Underground systems face outages from trees
collapsing on above-ground transformers or switch boxes, and/or from
tree root systems uprooting buried cable when trees topple.
a neighborhood may be locally served by underground cable, all
electric service eventually comes back above-ground and connects to
overhead service, either in the surrounding neighborhoods, or
further down the street. So, exposure to above-ground electric
service from weather, animals and trees is never fully
fact is that where there is standing water, FPL will not come out to
do repairs until the water recedes. This has been confirmed over and
unknown, within the Town’s planned future phases in Midtown, is
what will these various utility boxes look like?
midtown area of the Town has an assortment of condo/co-ops,
commercial buildings and single family homes.
the number of 6 ft. tall Switch boxes, Capacitors and Transformers
that will disfigure Midtown has not been revealed at this
just takes a little common sense to realize that this project will
resemble the undergrounding project of Gulf Stream which their Mayor
described in previous interviews as appearing like the
"Benghazi Suburbs." It is significant that the Project in
Gulf Stream was less than 2 miles. The Project in Palm Beach is over
40 miles and will more than double the estimated length of
construction, cost overruns and more, when compared to Gulf Stream.
Palm Beach residents prepared for over a decade of traffic delays
with construction fatigue, climbing non tax-deductible annual
special assessment costs, cost overruns, mishaps and mistakes, which
by the time the project and assessments are completed, the
underground wiring will have reached its maximum life expectancy of
30 years and have long been obsolete?
the residents find out the truth of what will befall them, the
damage will be done and it will be too late to object. The Town
Council will be long gone and all that will be left will be a
blunder of historic proportions!
WITH HARDENED POLES & SMART TECHNOLOGY: This is a property with
hurricane proof safe and reliable hardened poles and smart
technology. The poles blend in as compared to ....
WITH UNDERGROUNDED UTILITIES: This is the same property as it would
look with those six foot high voltage, combustible, unsightly,
ground level boxes, replacing the safety and reliability of hardened
THESE BOXES THAT THE TOWN PLANS TO INSTALL IN PALM BEACH, AN
IMPROVEMENT, OR, A DISASTER FOR OUR RESIDENTS AND OUR PROPERTY
the Town of Palm Beach seems determined to finance and construct a
Town-wide conversion to undergrounding project that is derived from
19th century technology, FPL is proceeding "full speed
ahead" to install the new State-of-the-Art Hardened Pole
Technology throughout the State of Florida.
May 5, 2017, the Palm Beach Post featured an article
regarding FPL. It stated, "The close to $3 billion Florida
Power & Light Co. has spent since 2006 hardening its system
against storms and making it more technologically advanced is paying
off, FPL's President and CEO Eric Silagy said Thursday at the
company's annual storm drill."
PB Post article further described FPL's recent performance in
storms stating, "During Hurricane Matthew in October, automated
feeder switches prevented 118,000 outages, and not a single storm
strengthened pole failed."
demonstrates the latest proof of success for FPL's investment in
Hardened Pole Technology! It is recognized
now that Hardened Poles, Coated Wires and Smart Switch Technology
has surpassed the buried wires that take longer to repair and are
vulnerable to flooding, deterioration, combustion and safety hazards
on any low lying flood-prone barrier island!
Difilippo, a Palm Beach resident, who
serves as an officer on his condo's Board of Directors, has an
impressive background as a Licensed Graduate Electrical Engineer/power
option. He has spent 43 years in the utility industry, both on
the user (Utility) side, and the manufacturer side. Mr.
Difilippo's experience covers a range of abilities and knowledge
about the electrical utility industry. These abilities extend from
his work in design, manufacture and installation of both overhead
and underground electrical apparatus.
Difilippo drew the following conclusion after reading about FPL's
success in having installed the Hardened Pole Technology in its
35 county system. Mr. Difilippo commented:
"Re FPL's success with storm hardened poles and automated
feeder switches during hurricanes Hermine and Matthew."
"Makes one wonder why the Town would
spend almost $100 Million that provides no improvement in
reliability, imposes a 10-year construction/traffic nightmare, and
degrades our property values with unsightly metal boxes containing
high voltage electrical devices."
facts are that hardened poles will withstand 145 mph winds, flooding
and have the smart technology that can easily be updated as
technology speedily moves forward.
Technology with its hardened overhead poles lasts 50 years, can be
easily upgraded and is faster to repair. Underground utilities have
a 30 year life span under the best conditions. Experts say,
"Water and Electricity don't mix!"
then, is the Town of Palm Beach planning to bury electric wires in a
community that is on a flood prone barrier island?
many residents have pointed out, the hardened poles that FPL would
install in the Town of Palm Beach, (which are currently lining S.
Ocean Blvd, from south of Lake Worth municipal beach to the Town's
southern boundary), are not the monstrosities that the Town and
their local paper have communicated to the Palm Beach taxpayers. In
fact they are more aesthetically pleasing than their predecessors
and blend in well with the landscaping. The equipment is high up and
not anything like the ground level huge, dangerous, high voltage
utility boxes that are planned to be installed throughout the Town.
the Town of Palm Beach is caught in a dangerous, ill-fated
underground conversion time warp.
shows us that saltwater and salt-air are two elements that are very
damaging to underground conduits and on-ground utility boxes. They
cause combustion, which is unsafe, unreliable, hazardous and
example, one area of Town from Sloan's Curve south to the Town's
boundary, is a little more than 4 miles. The Town of Palm Beach
plans to install 96-98 approximately 6 ft. high, industrial type,
high voltage utility boxes containing hazardous materials, within
that residential area of the Town. The Town of Palm Beach is
surrounded by saltwater on three sides. Something is dramatically
wrong with that picture!
obvious question here is: Why is the Town caught in this time warp
and refusing to get up to speed with the latest State-of-the-Art
Hardened Poles, coated wire and smart technology of modern times?
my last article, "Palm Beach Keeps Explosion News From
Residents," 6 underground utility explosions are reported which
are just a small microcosm of the large picture that the Town has
withheld from all their communications, Town Council Meetings,
Underground Task Force Meetings and the local newspaper of the
employee from The National Grid Utility Company in the northeast
said, "Explosions from undergrounding occur somewhere
now know that there are significant negative impacts, such as lack
of safety and reliability, which will result from converting to
underground utilities if Palm Beach continues on its relentless and
blind movement forward with this type of project on a Town-wide
significant quote taken from a recent Palm Beach Town Council
meeting that took place on May 9, 2017 was made by Town Council
President Pro-Tem, Dani Moore. She emphatically said, "Safety
trumps absolutely everything!" and followed it with, "...that
we do everything in our power to protect our residents."
statement by Town Council President Pro-Tem Moore was made in regard
to neighborhood beach access. The question that immediately follows
is, "Why has the Town Council never
acknowledged the lack of safety that exists with the frequency of
explosions that this underground utilities project will impose upon
the residents of the Town?"
most important fact that the Deputy Fire Chief conceded at the
5/9/17 Town Council Meeting and which can not be denied, in regard
to the reason that the Town of Palm Beach is having power-outages
and incidents in certain areas of the Town:
Overhead poles need replacement and need to be hardened to make them
UNDERGROUNDED UTILITIES IN THE TOWN OF PALM BEACH WILL NOT BE ABLE
TO COMPARE OR BEGIN TO APPROACH THE FAST PACE TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES
WHICH ARE BEING PROVIDED BY THE SAFETY AND RELIABILITY OF HARDENED
POLES, COATED WIRES AND AUTOMATED SMART SWITCHES!
is now or never, Palm Beach! Change course before it is too late and
Palm Beach becomes the second "TITANIC"!!
TO THE EDITOR
in a Flood Zone — Really?
Beach County has doubled required upset heights for new construction
in flood zones due to ocean rise. In spite of this, Palm Beach Town
wants to burrow below these heights to bury our utilities in the
kind of thinking drives people to choose this path.
the condos of South Ocean Blvd. who are obviously smarter & for
a large part against this project, especially south of Sloan’s
Curve, are being misrepresented by a citizens association that
claims to represent condo owners of South Ocean Blvd. & yet in
reality, represents the Town’s undergrounding project.
Beach Keeps Explosion News from Residents
real question is, "Is the perceived aesthetic beauty for a few
residents, worth risking life and safety of the majority of property
in this article are facts and several explosion incidents that the
Town of Palm Beach keeps under wraps.
Undergrounded utility wiring, transformers and all the high voltage
equipment it requires are causing unsafe, life threatening
Town of Palm Beach has repeatedly stated that a Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project will improve the safety, aesthetics
(beauty) and reliability of electric power throughout the Town.
Let's examine the safety and reliability claims more closely with
current events that have not been revealed to Town residents.
UTILITY DANGERS & NEGATIVE IMPACTS:
Izak Teller is a Licensed Professional Electrical Engineer with over
30 years of experience with underground utilities in various areas
of municipal engineering.
Teller, a Palm Beach resident and Officer on his condo Board of
"The salt water on a flood prone barrier island like Palm
Beach, with its high water table, will result in accelerated
deterioration of the underground conduits, greatly reducing the
normal 30 year life expectancy.
"This includes increased thermal loading of the undergrounded
cables during heat waves.
"Underground wiring with the required taps at each connection
to a home/or building, plus, the associated above-ground equipment,
will be susceptible to saltwater intrusion, storm surges and
"This will result in system failures and power outages.
"Digging up the landscaping, roads etc. to locate the failed
components will lead to traffic disruptions and delays.
"In addition, explosions in the transformers, switch and
capacitor boxes, underground conduits/taps and wiring caused by the
salt air/saltwater and gases building up/ heat/thermal overload,
will deteriorate the boxes/wiring/conduits and result in electrical
malfunctions, sparks/ explosions and possibly even
recently as May 1, 2017, Reuters reported that in Toronto,
Canada, "Blasts from transformer fire rocks Toronto
financial district". The article explains that:
"Explosions from a transformer fire rocked Toronto's financial
district for hours..."
"A fire in a transformer in an underground electrical vault
caused thundering explosions that continued intermittently for
hours, Toronto Fire Captain Adrian Ratushniak told Reuters."
"Previous, similar fires have been caused by water,
deteriorating electrical connections or aging transformers, he
"The clouds of smoke that filled the block and adjacent
intersections were likely caused by burning plastic or PVC
insulation," Ratusniak said, "and the explosions the
result of electrical wiring touching something it's not supposed
Associated Press stated further that:
"...high-voltage transformers were to blame." In
the Toronto explosions.
April 28, 2017 South Miami, Fla as
reported by Channel WSVN:
"Officials are investigating an underground explosion in South
Miami that left a section of the city without electricity for hours
"According to South Miami Police, there were reports of an
underground explosion and smoke coming from a manhole."
"Officials said the outage appears to be electrical in
CBS Miami, it describes:
"Florida Power & Light and Hazmat crews were called to
"Hundreds of FPL customers lost power near the area following
31, 2017, CBS, New York, "Manhole
Explosions Shatters Windows Of Buildings In East Village"
"The FDNY said high levels of carbon monoxide prompted
evacuations of some nearby buildings, CBS2 reported."
"The explosions are likely linked to the rainy weather,
according to a Con Edison spokesman."
"Anytime you have some sort of salt into our electrical
system, it's just not good," said Con Edison spokesman Sidney
"The salt can make contact with lines and spark, officials
December 31, 2016, Chicago Tribune
article, " No Injuries after underground electrical explosion
in Gold Coast"
"No one was injured, but two underground electrical explosions
shook passersby on the Gold Coast on Saturday."
8, 2015, Palm Beach Daily News, Palm
Beach, Fla article, "Explosion Rocks Sun and Surf Condo"
"Electrical Blast in Garage Flings Pavers, Leaves Crater."
was reported by residents of the condo that in the early morning
hours, an electrical explosion rocked their condominium buildings.
Bricks and pavers flew up from a manhole cover hitting the 7th floor
penthouse and roof. A power outage from this electrical underground
explosion caused 1,400 residents and business to have a power outage
and fear for their lives and safety.
is questionable why the Town of Palm Beach has never provided the
information regarding the cause of the explosion that occurred in a
residential building and are refusing to look into any other
underground vault explosions.
19, 2015, NBC News, NY, on the
Today Show, reported, "Why Manhole Explosions Happen In the
get extremely hot because of extra volume of electricity running
through them because of air condition."
FPL John Lehr reported in an Underground Utilities Task Force
meeting in October 2015, "Underground Utilities takes long to
repair since it takes longer to locate the problem."
is in the eye of the beholder, but you decide. Is the perceived
beauty for a few, worth the life and safety of thousands that live
in the Town of Palm Beach and the devaluation of property values?
emphases by Ms.
Beach Violates Town Charter
Photo by Maddy Greenberg
98 of these boxes of hazardous materials in
the south end of the Town of Palm Beach on Easements or Public Rights
boxes of hazardous materials placed on Palm Beach's south end
properties violates the Town Charter! The Town charter requires the
Mayor and Town Officials to provide, first and foremost, for the
safety and protection of all residents of the Town.
the 4/13/17 Town Council Meeting, the Town Council and Mayor turned
a deaf ear and had a total lack of concern when more than a dozen
property owners, including Condo/Co-op Presidents, raised safety,
reliability and aesthetic concerns when they objected to the
"unbridled access", through Easements, that the Town is
demanding of Condos and Co-op properties. This will occur through
the Town-wide Undergrounding Utility Project if the Town installs
dangerous, high voltage, huge, utility boxes along the manicured
pristine front lawns of private properties and on the rights of way
in the south end along South Ocean Boulevard. The
Mayor and Town Council demonstrated a total lack of concern for
these issues in the serious impending crisis that they are creating
when they voted to continue to move the project forward.
addition, it is now clear that the ultimate level of hypocrisy has
been generated by the Town of Palm Beach's Mayor, Town Council and
Town Manager. According to the Palm Beach Daily News (PBDN) 4/21/17,
"wireless proposal feared as disaster" article, Town
Officials claim that "...giving telecommunication companies
unbridled access to public property and public right of way"
for antennas and possibly poles would be "AN AESTHETIC
DISASTER" in the Town of Palm Beach.
Palm Beach Mayor insists that with wireless communication antennas
"we in essence could have every public right of way marred
by a utility we have no control over" which never
addresses the 98 dangerous, huge, unsightly utility boxes. Clearly, Town
Officials want to ignore that the same lack of control over safety,
reliability and aesthetic issues that will occur with their plans to
install (98) unsafe, high voltage, huge boxes on front lawns on the
boulevard, which is much more serious than any wireless
communication antennas on poles.
installing wireless communication antennas on poles, "Town
Officials say it would be an aesthetic calamity for Palm Beach,
which relies on strict regulations to preserve its beauty."
Yet, Town Officials totally ignore, with outrageous irony, that the
Town will be destroying not only the property values in the south
end by insisting that huge, high voltage equipment boxes will line
the beautiful residential landscapes of South Ocean Boulevard but
also, the safety and reliability of utility service.
focus on those concerns raised by Condo/Co-op Presidents and Condo
representatives: safety, reliability and aesthetics.
Izak Teller, Palm Beach resident,
Vice-President of 2600 Condo on S. Ocean Blvd, in the south-end of
Town, is a licensed professional electrical engineer in NYC
and CT with over 30 years of experience of municipal engineering.
says that "converting to underground utilities on a flood
prone barrier island has great safety risks".
Teller says that "the installation of approximately 100 large,
mostly around 6 ft. tall, high voltage boxes along the front lawns
of S. Ocean Blvd. is both hazardous and unsightly. Underground wires
are subject to corrosion from salt water intrusion and gases that
form, thereby putting the entire electrical power system at
explained that "placing electrical equipment on the public
right of way exposes the Town and the State, which controls State
Road A-1-A, South Ocean Blvd. and possibly including the original
property owner, to possible legal liability in the event of injury
to motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, landscapers, as a result of
these obstructions placed in close proximity to the roadway. The
same is true if private property owners grant easements as the Town
is requesting of them for these same boxes. They will not only be
dangerous and unsightly but create liability risks for the original
Teller explained that "these huge boxes contain combustibles
and are subject to the build up of gases." He cites that "this
has already occurred at the Sun and Surf Condo in Midtown in October
2015, when gases built up and created an explosion that shot pavers
from the ground level up to the 7th floor penthouse." Izak
Teller spoke of the fact that "there
have been recent electrical explosions from underground electric
utilities in NYC at various locations, including one just outside of
the ABC building."
says that the "large industrial style electrical equipment
utility boxes besides being dangerous and ugly, will
negatively impact property values in the south-end of Palm
Teller summed it up by explaining that "FPL is currently
providing 99.9% reliability to its customers and there is no
significant improvement expected to justify an undergrounding
project of this magnitude. Town-wide Undergrounding is totally
unnecessary when the utility's method of hardened poles, coated
wires and smart technology that the State has mandated at no cost,
provides 99.9% reliability at less risk to the public."
Beach Official's total disregard for the south end of Town is the
height of hypocrisy when they cry foul about placing antennas or
poles on rights of way for aesthetic reasons, but give the okay to
placing hazardous, huge unsightly electrical boxes along the
manicured front lawns of residential condos and co-ops on South
Ocean Boulevard at the south end of Town.
stated by Palm Beach's Town Manager in PBDN 4/21/17 article,
"Its just going to be aesthetically horrible. I just
couldn't understand how the (sponsoring) legislators could
envision getting away with it in their own towns... how they
think their cities aren't going to go totally ballistic is beyond
Officials, we don't understand, how you can't envision what you are
trying to get away with, in YOUR OWN Town!
for yourself why installing unsafe, industrial style, high
voltage electrical equipment on rights of way, Easements and front
lawns in front of pristine residential buildings worth millions of
dollars is okay, while high tech antennas is "a disaster
for the Town."
it is terribly wrong, as stated by Mayor Coniglio at the 4/13/17
Town Council meeting, to have, "Those unsightly antennas on the
many decorative lights that this Town has spent millions on".
Beach Mayor and Town Council, you are failing to comply with your
responsibilities that are outlined in the Town Charter with regard
to protecting the safety of all Town residents. The Town-wide
Undergrounding Utilities Project is a gross violation of the Town
Beach Mayor and Town Council, wake up before it is too late!
Emphases by Maddy Greenberg
Beach Exposes Residents to Unnecessary Turmoil & Risks!
VOTED for this!! This photo was taken from the Town of Palm Beach's
draft Master Plan of the FPL equipment to be placed on Palm Beach lawns.
Palm Beach is planning to install 98 high voltage huge boxes from
Sloan's Curve to the southern boundary of the Town on the front lawn of
manicured properties. CONCLUSION: PALM BEACH IS DESTROYING PROPERTY
than surrendering your property rights, which will permit the Town of
Palm Beach to destroy our property values by defacing our manicured
front lawns, REFUSE!, RESIST! and DENY granting the
Town EASEMENTS which would give the Town and any entity of their
choice OWNERSHIP, USE, UNBRIDLED ACCESS and CONTROL OF YOUR PROPERTIES
aware: If the Town attempts to take your property through Eminent
Domain for this NON-ESSENTIAL Town Project, IT IS REQUIRED IN THE STATE
OF FLORIDA that the Town must pay all legal fees, costs and appraisals
related to taking your property from you. The law is on the side of the
Property Owners. The Town can push and coerce you to grant them an
Easement as much as they want, but the Property Owner has the legal
right to say "NO’! It will cost you nothing to refuse the
Easement and save your property values from the disfigurement by high
voltage boxes to be imposed by the Town in front of your property.
of writing my article this week, I have printed below a very important
and revealing communication that was written by Harris S. Fried and sent
to me. It concerns the Town of Palm Beach’s proposed Underground
Utilities Project. Mr. Fried tells it like it is!
believe its contents are crucial to understanding critical aspects of
where this proposed Town-wide Project currently stands. A few of these
critical aspects will be discussed at the Town Council on Thursday,
April 13, 2017 starting at 9:30am.
Fried is a Town of Palm Beach resident in the Town’s midtown-
north-end area. He is an attorney with a background with financial
institutions involved in global infrastructure projects. Also, he is the
former Chairman of the Town’s Code Enforcement Board. Mr. Fried has
attended Underground Utilities Task Force Meetings for at least a year
and a half.
following was written by Harris S. Fried:
emphases are Ms. Greenberg’s)
April 13th the Town Council will be asked to consider proceeding with
interim financing for the first phase of the undergrounding project.
Interim financing is being sought because impending legal actions etc.
are preventing the Town from moving forward with the $90 million bond
issue originally contemplated.
a Citizen’s Association forum last week information was revealed that
may be instructive. The three main selling points for undergrounding
have always been Aesthetics, Reliability and Safety.
the issue of Aesthetics a clear disconnect exists between what
Messrs. Bradford (Town Manager) and Schanen (Town Consulting Engineer,
Kimley-Horn) said and what is really going to happen on the ground.
the most part rather unobtrusive poles will be replaced by 98 electrical
equipment boxes scattered the length of South Ocean Blvd. from Sloan’s
Curve to the southern end of the Town.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the ground level mega boxes
containing highly sensitive electrical equipment would be far more
unsightly than the existing poles ever could be.
Reliability: Mr. Bradford was forced to admit that any
improvement in reliability is miniscule in reality. Are we being
misled here or is this simply a matter of miscommunication? You decide.
Here the Town Manager provided NO empirical data to demonstrate that by
undergrounding safety would be improved. In reality having so many
highly charged electrical boxes at ground level could result in greater
safety concerns than less.
Bradford’s references to a Traffic Management Program really
exposed how complicated managing this project will become. Contemplate
this: How will traffic be managed when phase 1 begins at the same time
that replacement of the southern bridge begins? And if this wasn’t
enough further complicating the process will be the regular use by
President Trump of Mar-a-Lago as the southern White House. The word
"chaos" comes to mind.
was particularly disconcerting was the suggestion by Lew Crampton, the
president of the Citizen’s Association, that if the residents in the
south end wanted sand on their beaches it would behoove them to
cooperate on undergrounding. Duplicitous? It would certainly seem so.
this was all against the backdrop of neither the Town’s management nor
their advisors being able to give a clear indication of what the cost of
the project will be.
validate the Master Plan that Kimley-Horn has produced it has been
determined that a "peer review" will be conducted to review
the feasibility, phasing, sequencing and engineer’s Opinion of Costs
for the project. A second opinion by a nationally recognized firm on the
critical issues mentioned is a good idea.
have been told that a Selection Committee composed of Councilwoman
Maggie Zeidman, Susan Gary (Underground Task Force member), Jay
Boodeshwar (Deputy Town Manager), Jane Struder (Town Finance Director)
and Patricia Strayer (Town Engineer), will choose the firm to perform
the peer review. So as to avoid the perception of undue influence, Town
Manager Tom Bradford will be a (non-voting) committee member since he
supervises several of the committee members. How objective can
these town employees be when their boss is overseeing their every
decision? It is imperative that these committee members are free of bias
and any undue influence from their supervisors. I’m not sure that
what is being done meets the level of impartiality that is
ensure transparency, the public should have an opportunity to be
engaged. Meetings should be announced ahead of time, the public should
be invited to attend and the meetings should be recorded so as to
preserve a record of the committee’s deliberations. All materials
presented should be available for public review. Transparency here is
critically important or the peer review will end up being a waste of
time and money.
Civic Association has offered to contribute up to $50,000 to this (peer)
review. While this appears generous at first blush, I doubt that
they will be a silent observer. As we know, Jeff Smith, the Chairman
of the Undergrounding Task Force, is a major contributor to the Civic
Association. These interlocking interests should be a red flag to anyone
hoping for a rational outcome here.
back to why the Town Council meeting on April 13th is so important. If
the Town Council approves the recommendation of the Town Manager and the
task force (no surprise here!) to move forward with some form of interim
financing it will enable the project to move forward despite the fact
that very serious uncertainties exist and before the aforementioned
"peer review" is completed. Suppose the firm conducting the
peer review determines that the project is flawed for one reason or
another? How can it be stopped once phase 1 has begun? This will be
an unholy mess to unravel.
with all due respect, my suggestion to the Town Council is to DEFER a
decision on interim financing until the peer review has been finalized.
the Town Council allows this project to move forward with the level of
uncertainly that exists here they will own this project and all of the
ramifications that flow there from.
Town Council meeting will give the Council an opportunity to introduce
the level of oversight that this project demands. To do otherwise
will expose the town, and its residents, to an inordinate amount of risk
that none of us ever signed up for!
Beach's "Voodoo Economics"!
Town intends to use these similar type and size of industrial size
huge high voltage, high risk, equipment to deface and mar the Town
of Palm Beach. Are these monstrosities on landscaped front
lawns going to enhance Palm Beach?
submitted by D. Braha
summarize what we know for a fact. Clearly, Town-wide Underground
Utilities in the Town of Palm Beach is not only an exercise in
"Voodoo Economics", but also a fatally flawed Project
that is totally unnecessary on a flood prone barrier island.
Ultimately, Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities will leave
on-ground, industrial style, huge boxes of high voltage equipment
to destroy the Town's beautiful scenic vistas forever! Property
owners will have lost their property rights and all control over
what takes place on the Easements of their parcels of property. So
why is the Town of Palm Beach really insisting that they want
the 3/14/17 Town Council Meeting, Town residents enumerated some
of the flaws in the Town's plan for the Project. Harris Fried, an
attorney said he has dealt with financial institutions involved
with infrastructure projects. Ira Smith, a Town resident with
legal background, also spoke in this regard.
Fried: "There are risks that are not being addressed";
"The way costs are being addressed is
somewhere between creative accounting and VOODOO ECONOMICS!"
Voodoo Economics is defined as "policy perceived as
being unrealistic and ill-advised, especially a policy of
maintaining or increasing levels of public spending..." This
is a sad and profound description of the Town of Palm Beach's
financial practices in this deeply flawed, out of control
Town-wide Underground Utilities Project.
Fried: "You do not reduce the costs of a project...by
shifting critical elements like the contingency, reducing the
contingency, shifting the whole Easement process, $15 million that
we've talked about before and moved that over to the operating
budget. That's NOT value engineering. Value Engineering is coming
up with creative solutions to the same product that the people are
expecting to have the amount of money, more or less, that has been
agreed upon without compromising the integrity of the project.
Don't see how shifting money from the undergrounding budget, to
the Town budget, really accomplishes what should be done."
Fried ended with cautioning the Town Council that "We are
rushing into something. Press the pause button, stop
and think about the risk the Town is exposing themselves to."
Smith: Referring to the Town's Recreation Center Project for which
the Town's share is a maximum of $5 million dollar investment;
" The Mayor's comment was ....we would not break ground
until we had ALL the money in the bank." ; Council member
"Lindsay's comment was, we don't really know what the costs
are until you get the real on the deal." "So,
I ask you, for a $5 million Project, if that's your sensibilities,
where is the sensibility on a $185 to $200 million Project? There
is a disconnect there."
Council Members Maggie Zeidman & Julie Araskog: "Our
referendum was for us to borrow up to $90 million.";
"But our budget was not over $90 million...that the budget
the voters were voting on was up to $90 million."
Council President Richard Kleid's
statement: "What they were voting on is to fund it, but they
were not voting on what the Project will eventually cost. That's a
Town Council Policy question."... "Understand that is
all that was voted on, was they would appropriate $90
Smith: Referring to the referendum language voted on by Town
registered voters, "$90 million was the cost" and to
his "recollection the verbiage said it was to be used to pay
for the utilities, etc. Now when I
hear that it is not limited to $90 million, I think it only makes
the plaintiffs' lawsuits stronger, not weaker."
BEACH MAYOR'S DISCONNECT WITH REALITY
the Palm Beach Daily News’ 3/25/17 article regarding
"Home Rule", Mayor Coniglio speaks of concerns regarding
"Wireless regulation". It appears that the Mayor's
concerns about State legislation that would prevent local
governments from regulating utility companies' ability to place
equipment, "such as wireless antennas within public rights of
way", are contradictory! Mayor Coniglio is quoted as saying, "We,
in essence, could have every public right of way marred by a
utility we have no control over."
with the Mayor's blessing and the Town Council's promotion, it IS
OKAY for the Town to let Utilities put high voltage equipment on
Easements from private property owners to disfigure neighborhoods!
it is NOT OKAY according to Mayor Coniglio, for the State to tell
the Town that Utilities can put equipment such as wireless
antennas on public rights of way because it would MAR the rights
of way!!! Clearly, the Mayor has a disconnect with her priorities
and a total lack of concern when it comes to huge high voltage
5.5' to 6' boxes lining South Ocean Boulevard right of ways and
also on private properties.
THE TOWN COUNCIL'S ACTIONS DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP?
significantly, it appears that Palm Beach's Town Council has
forgotten that their Town is part of the U.S.A. and is governed by
a democracy, not by a dictatorship of the Town Council.
is proven by what occurred at the 10/14/14 Town Council Meeting
where the Council engaged in a unilateral vote to do Town-wide
Undergrounding of Utilities, without a Town-wide vote by ALL the
Town's residents and property owners.
In addition to that flawed decision by the Town Council, Council
President Kleid's statement at the 3/14/17 Town Council Meeting
that the voters' approval doesn't matter.
the Town Council dictates through their self-imposed Town Council
Policies in whatever way they decree. That
is part of what demonstrates a "dictatorship" rule.
BEACH'S DISCONNECT WITH REALITY
Town's priorities are so skewed that they have lost sight of
protecting their barrier island Town. Instead,
they are putting all of their efforts into a high risk,
unrealistic, unnecessary, deeply flawed, out of control Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project.
Beach Plays Shell Game With Easements!
by Maddy Greenberg
you like to have one or more of these on your front lawn?
this an aesthetic benefit to your property?
obstacle that the Town of Palm Beach must get past in this ever
growing quagmire of a Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities Project,
is the fact that they need hundreds of Easements from property
owners for varied sizes of high voltage on-ground electrical
equipment on their private properties.
ATT & Comcast have no way to complete a viable Project design
unless the required number of Easements is acquired by the Town.
Ultimately, it could strangle the Project from moving forward!
acquisition for a NON-ESSENTIAL Project of this nature on private
properties is a major hurdle for the Town. It is especially so
while the Town is struggling with lawsuits that attack the
fundamentals to justify the Project and that also withhold
financing by GO bonds. In addition, the Project is facing major
financial issues such as final costs and cost overruns.
acquire these Easements the Town has worked out a "plan"
or scheme, which constitutes a "SHELL GAME" with the
public. The Town Staff or even a Deputy Town Manager visits
potential Easement properties to convince, or to improvise a form
of intimidation, in order to make the public think that the taking
of their property through an Easement in accordance with the
Town-wide Undergrounding of Utilities is a "fait
accompli". This is, in fact, at this point in time, the
furthest from the truth!
should not be deceived by the number of Easements granted when
some may be located on municipal property, not on private
property. For example, the total number of Easements required in
the south-end will contain municipal properties, such as in Phipps
Park, on Ibis Isle and in the City of Lake Worth.
appears that, at least in the south-end of Town, these site visits
by Town Staff and Engineers have been polite. However, the verbal
promises and the incomplete details and information given to the
Condo/Co-op Officials, is nothing more than unsubstantiated
promotional spin with no hard facts to support the verbiage!
that in the south-end of Town on Condo/Co-op private properties,
the Town expects the Boards of Directors to give up parcels of Condo/Co-op
properties without providing any proof or
details about what they are getting in return. In reality, what
they are surrendering will be used for ground level boxes of high
voltage equipment which the grantor has no control over once the
Easement has been given.
property owners are giving away manicured lawns in exchange for
unsafe boxes of high voltage equipment that destroy the aesthetics
of the entire area! Is this not a
IS CLEAR THAT PALM BEACH OFFICIALS MUST THINK THAT THE PUBLIC IS
GULLIBLE AND EASILY MANIPULATED!
Project has been broken down into Phases. The Town wants to begin
in the south-end, where it is "easiest" and where there
is a straight run with multifamily high rises. Simultaneously, it
will also start at the extreme tip of the north-end where there
are more complicated winding streets. According to the March Task
Force Meeting, the Town's Request for
Property Easements for Phase I of Town-wide Underground Utilities
Project is: -North: 48 Easements, 39 have been contacted, 7
completed. -South: 29 Easements (21 properties), 18 contacted, 0
to the Town's consultant, 30 switch boxes will be placed in the
south end of Town. In essence this
translates to giant high voltage ground level boxes of equipment
that will line a previously scenic route as you drive down South
Ocean Boulevard. This configuration will turn the now attractive
south-end into a commercial and industrial looking area with huge
ugly boxes that cannot be hidden from the property owners, walkers
and drivers along the boulevard.
designated Condo/Co-op properties are slated for one to five huge
boxes of electrical high voltage equipment, as tall and as wide as
6 feet, to be placed on their manicured front lawns.
the Deputy Town Manager said that the equipment will be hidden
from sight and screened by landscaping, unbeknownst to the
Condo/Co-op official listening to these machinations, the truth is
the opposite of what the "Easement" really states. The
Easement parcel of previously private property will now be legally
bound according the content stated in the Easement document.
the "non-exclusive Easement
forever" document grants a parcel of your private property
for the price of a mere $1.00 paid by the Town to the property
also grants the legal permission for every possible affiliate,
licensee, agent, successor and anyone
assigned by FPL, ATT, Comcast and the Town the right to
"clear the land and keep it cleared of all trees, undergrowth
and other obstructions within the Easement Area."
doesn't fit the verbal promise the Town staff is making in order
to get cooperation to acquire the Easement.
Teller, a Palm Beach Property Owner, who is a professional,
licensed electrical engineer, is also a licensed contractor in the
City of New York. He has extensive experience in undergrounding
Teller reviewed the documentation that was given to two Condo
Presidents along S. Ocean Blvd. by Palm Beach Deputy Town Manager,
Jay Boodheshwar and a Town retained engineer.
Mr. Teller's expert opinion, "Transformers will typically be
4 to 5 feet cubes or rectangles. Add to that, the switches may be
6 foot cubes- and capacitors - over 5 foot 4 inches, all without
the height of the platforms."
Teller also points out, "... until the design is completed
there is no way of determining the size or type of equipment that
will eventually be installed at any given location."
Teller added, "From an engineering point of view, there is no
way to determine that what they propose will not wind up much
addition, according to Izak Teller, from
his experience and the wording in the legal Easement Document,
"The town is asking the Condos/ Co-ops (and all property
owners) to grant essentially unrestricted easements - they may
very well come back and say they need bigger easements." Once
you have signed away your rights, all bets are off.
Town's technique for massaging the truth, in order to get property
owners to sign away their rights, is highly unconscionable!
happened to the legendary and world renowned Palm Beach?
should a questionable Town-wide Project cause residents to be
concerned that Town Officials and Staff will take advantage of
them and conceal the truth?
IT ACCEPTABLE PRACTICE FOR A MUNICIPALITY TO GET ITS WAY BY
PLAYING A "SHELL GAME" WITH THE PUBLIC?
Beach Sinks Further Into the Flood Plain While Trying To
submitted by Maddy Greenberg
below: Typical Dimensions of
Capacitor and Switch Cabinets
Underground Type Capacitor Bank, Residential/Commercial Areas:
65"; Width: 65"; Height: 65";
Dimensions: 92" x 92"
Standard Underground Switch Cabinet, Residential/Commercial Areas:
67"; Width: 75"; Height: 50"
- 82" x 90"
above: The Palm Beach of tomorrow? Town photos of the massive electrical
equipment & their measurements to go on front lawns of private
properties, recently given to a Condo/Co-op Board President. This is why
Palm Beach wants easements granted. Can you imagine these huge eyesores
on your front lawns? Is this not major devaluation of private property?
Park, Palm Beach Flooded. Undergrounding Utilities in a flood plain that
would be buried underground and underwater in non-waterproof conduits,
plus ground level electrical equipment submerged in areas with salt
water intrusion. Does this qualify to have aesthetic and safety
the Town of Palm Beach attempts to move forward with a Town-wide Project
to bury utilities underground, they are sinking further into financial,
legal and now FEMA Flood Zone Dangers for this NON-ESSENTIAL PROJECT!
Palm Beach Daily News (PBDN) article of 2/19/17 informed us that new
FEMA rules will put more houses in the flood zone. The critical risks
and dangers to undergrounding utilities Town-wide have been unearthed,
when reading between the lines. We learn that an historic house in Palm
Beach will encounter a "lift and shift" process, so as to
"bring it up to current town and federal flood standards that
require new homes be built a least 7 feet 6 inches above sea
PBDN article relates that "Historic homes may see changes". It
cross-pollinates with another important issue when you read further and
learn how it directly impacts the Town’s Town-wide Underground
Utilities Project. As I cite the following significant facts from within
the article, consider the dangers of the Town’s continual push to bury
utility wires and place transformers, switch boxes and other electrical
equipment on ground level in denial of FEMA warnings.
to the article, "Lifting and shifting houses could become more
common in town in the coming years as regulators take steps to
protect buildings that could be under water." a Town Official
soon will release regulations, which determine flood risk and insurance
rates, that are expected to put more homes in flood zones", said a
Town Official with the Planning, Zoning & Building Dept. (P&Z)
article further states that "A lot of the older homes are below the
base floor elevation." The question that follows immediately is,
"What happens to adjacent properties when a neighboring house is,
‘Lifted’ to meet FEMA requirements?"
article acknowledges that Palm Beach needs protection against
"...the harsh Florida elements such as hurricanes, storms and
rising sea levels…"
to the P&Z Town Official, John Page, "At
our widest point, we’re less than a mile from the ocean to the
Intracoastal…I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of
homes are in the flood plain."
significantly, the article said that the word around Town is, "…
The Town may have to plan on maybe 8.5 to 9 feet" elevations above
sea-level to conform with the rising FEMA requirements. How does
undergrounding utilities, Town-wide, fit in to this scenario?
the barrier island of Palm Beach, the Town, which already has historic
flood issues that include salt water infiltration, it would follow that
"… a 3 foot rise in sea level would result in most land north of
Worth Avenue and south of Pendleton Ave., between South County Road and
Cocoanut Row would be under water."
anticipated FEMA Report for Palm Beach County will reveal increased
Flood Plain levels for the Town of Palm Beach and to serve as a
"RED FLAG" to the Town and timely warning to HALT a
NON-ESSENTIAL Town-wide Undergrounding Project.
Town of Palm Beach cannot afford to ignore their responsibility to
protect their constituents and acknowledge Scientific Facts!
on earth would any municipality facing the enormity of risks due to much
of the Town being at such low elevation with rising sea levels, the
oncoming and current tidal flooding, rain run-off difficulties and high
water table levels, still continue to plow forward despite all the
Project costs spiraling out of control, more than a decade long of
estimated construction and inevitable traffic hardships, why does the
Town continue to pay experts, use Town staff time and attempt to take
private properties for easements?
the south end, Town Officials have already begun to make calls and
visits to Condo/Co-op properties to ask the Officials of those
properties to give up their private properties beyond the already
existing easements, in order to place major equipment for their
underground project. Why have Town Officials not also contacted the
Condo/Co-op unit owners with regard to surrendering this private
Condo President said that the Deputy Town Manager and a Town retained
engineer came to tell him to give up the Condo property to place THREE
huge high voltage utility boxes on their lawn. One box is almost 5’
4" in height, width and length, without even a concrete foundation.
The others are over 4’ high, over 6’ wide and 5’6" in length,
without a foundation.
about how that is going to appear on private properties as one drives
down South Ocean Boulevard. Where is the aesthetic benefit? Those
monstrosities will effectively devalue the area and especially those
unfortunate Condo/Co-op buildings that have these hideous huge metal
that does not spare any other single family homes throughout the Town,
which will have these types of "on ground apparatus" on their
properties. With the oncoming, increasing flood
zone areas, there will be many of these various equipment boxes raised
up as much as 9 feet, in accordance with FEMA requirements.
document to be signed states, that it is a "non-exclusive
easement forever" in exchange for $1.00! This is in exchange
for the privilege of devaluing your property and also to have huge
unsightly high voltage ground level equipment placed within view on your
with granting this easement, it states that
FPL, Bellsouth Telecommunications, Comcast and the Town, together with
the affiliates, licensees, agents, successors and assigns of the above
named entities can "add to, enlarge, change the voltage as well
as the size" of any thing within the easement. It also says that
within the easement, they have the right to "clear the land, remove
all trees, undergrowth and obstructions within the Easement area…"
This means no shrubs or trees can surround this atrocious eyesore!
above is in direct contradiction to the promises made by the Town to the
property owners prior to the Referendum vote!
paraphrase Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is repeating
the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results!
Town of Palm Beach has been attempting to underground utilities since at
least 2003, without ever looking into all the risks and issues
surrounding the disadvantages and perils of embarking on such a Project.
FEMA HAS ADDED MORE HAZARDS!
that not meet the definition of "insanity"? Or, is this just
another example of bizarrely poor and irresponsible governance?
Beach Plummets Down The Rabbit Hole!
submitted by Maddy Greenberg
you like this box in front of your home, condo or co-op?
to your senses, Palm Beach Town Council! Scrap this Town-wide
Nightmare! Go back to petitions with 80% property owner approval
and do a Neighborhood by Neighborhood Project for those that want
to underground their utilities!!
Town of Palm Beach is descending further down the rabbit hole in
their grand scheme to bury utility wires in a Town-wide Project.
The Town is playing games with the facts as they attempt to cover
up and to stop their descent into the largest debacle the Town has
Costs have well exceeded the voter approved Referendum for
financing the $90 million Project. Despite the Town’s best
attempts to hide all the facts, they recently revealed that the
$90 million Referendum limit has been surpassed and has risen as
high as approximately $123.6 million.
facts and some of the harsh realities of this Town-wide Project
unfolded at the February 7, 2017 Underground Utilities Task Force
(UUTF) meeting! The Town claims they have
lowered the Project’s Costs by shifting them to homeowners and
the Town’s budget, which is funded by the taxpayers. These costs
have not been eliminated.
Referendum for Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities Project stated
the Underground Utility Project would be financed with GO Bonds
"not exceeding $90 million" payable from full faith and
credit ad valorem taxes and non-ad valorem Special Assessments.
The lawsuits filed against the Town have put the Town in the
position where they cannot issue the GO Bonds as long as the
lawsuits are unresolved.
predictions by the Town of having the lawsuits resolved by May or
June, reality is that they can easily go on for years.
Why is the Town wasting taxpayer dollars, depleting the Town’s
budget, using taxpayer funded staff time, paying consultants,
instead of holding off and waiting until the lawsuits are decided?
know this Project has been on the Town’s radar since 2003. The
lack of proper planning and due diligence for this Project and
Lack of Transparency throughout has and continues to be widespread
was very evident at the UUTF 2-7-17 meeting when the "Current
Conceptual Opinion Of Probable Cost of the Undergrounding
Program" was unveiled by Kevin Schanen of Kimley-Horn, to be
$98.6 million which exceeds the "not exceeding $90
million" financing voter approved 3-15-16 Referendum. After
being questioned by the UUTF Chairman, Mr. Schanen revealed that
the budget before value engineering was, "Over $120
Parker, UUTF member, asked "What is the total dollar amount
of Adjustments?" Kevin Schanen responded, "$25
million." With simple addition,
$98.6 million + $25 million = $123.6 million. This amount is well
over the $90 million original budget and financing amount approved
in the 3-15-16 Referendum!
the core of the problem was revealed when Town Manager Bradford
responding to a UUTF member’s question, said that he got his
original number of $90 million from a consulting engineer who
provided a "one pager" budget, without back-up. When he
stated, "It was a $90 million one pager…no back-up…"
What a revelation that was! This is the source of the $90 million
amount in the Referendum.
touch on a few of the real truths that were revealed.
UUTF member, Susan Gary acknowledged, "We’re stuck with the
$90 million", it can be concluded that the Town is fully
aware that they must not exceed the $90
million or they will encounter legal consequences!
Easement Process is an essential
component of this Project. Of the total easements needed for the
entire Town-wide Project, 76 are required for Phase 1 North (48)
and Phase 1 South (28). To date, only 3 easements have been fully
executed and notarized.
learned that in the south end, where there are already easement
areas in front of properties, the Town
will be required to take additional easements on Condo/Co-op
private properties through either easement acquisition or eminent
you drive A1A, your view would be of giant transformers and
occasionally, massive switch boxes. This would certainly mar your
aesthetic view of the Boulevard. Why
would any Board of Directors of a condo/co-op be willing to
devalue their property with a transformer or switch box?
also learned that the Citizens’ Association which claims to
advocate for the south end of Town, not only supports
undergrounding, which was rejected by the majority of south end
voters, but it has also given contact information to the Town! In
addition, the Citizens’ Association is working with the Town
to convince the condos/co-ops to grant permanent easements for
equipment to be placed on their private properties. It is
possible that legal action may be taken by some of the
Transferred To Town Budget/Taxpayers. A
huge cost, $12.8 million, of asphalt, milling & resurfacing
costs has been moved to the Town’s budget. Leaving it unknown
when they pave the affected streets. To save another $4.7 million
on conduits, all communication cables (ATT, Comcast), as bizarre
as it may seem, the wires that go from the conduit that is at the
street will be buried without a conduit on private properties.
Lake Worth Bypass portion in the
south end has been removed from the budget, because it can not be
bonded. It was mentioned at the meeting that this will be put into
the Town’s budget. This means it will come out of the taxpayer’s
Costs in the current Budget were
provided by the Town and are not all inclusive. No "big"
legal costs such as eminent domain or construction litigation
costs are included in the current budget.
Project Contingency which originally
was 20% is now just under 10% with a soft cost contingency of 5%.
Estimated Cost of Inflation is 3% per year starting
in 2018 for Phase 2. Susan Gary pointed out that "Typical is
3-5% according to Engineering News Record." Is 3% realistic?
Easement Restoration. Tom Bradford
said that "…there shouldn’t be foliage in the easement…".
90% of the properties in the Project have an FPL easement in the
rear of the property. At the end of the Project, the poles and
utility lines will be removed from the FPL easements. Mr. Bradford
said, "Utility company employees may cause damage". If
any foliage is ruined in the process, Bradford went on to say,
"We think the Utility is responsible…. Why would the
Town pay to fix foliage on private property?" The Town will
also include a $100 allowance per property for general clean-up
paid to Town contractors in the Project Budget to clean-up and
restore the easements. Mrs. Gary responded, "Now people will
Financing. The Town’s financial
advisor, Jay Glover, said that "draw on a line of credit and
it will be higher than the $2.54 million estimate." He
suggested putting a "cushion into the assessment…"
He also said the "Market is Volatile". He
discussed that, "…interest rates could go up and you have
to increase the assessments." Most significant was what Mr.
Glover said to the Task Force regarding their obvious
determination to take out a line of credit, begin to put shovels
in the ground and regardless of all the issues swirling around
them, begin this project with a $10 million line of credit. Mr.
Glover warned officials, "If the lawsuits are not
favorably settled, do we want to draw on a line of credit?"
He asked them, how they will pay the loan back? UUTF member Donald
Gulbrandsen said, "Talk about pitfalls."
the meantime, with the Project Cost and Easement Process still in
flux and still exploring ways to bring the Project into budget,
the Final Master Plan with Project Cost is still scheduled to be
presented at the April UUTF meeting. The approval of the
Assessment Methodology is scheduled for the March 14, 2017 Town
Council Meeting which triggers the Public Hearings and approval
process for Special Assessment in April and May, with final
approval on May 9, 2017.
previously predicted by the Town Council, there will be legal
challenges to the assessment methodology, which will likely
prevent assessments from being used as payment for a line of
credit. The Town’s mailings of each property owners’
assessments will be like receiving a quote for a product you never
the end of the meeting, Anthony Dowell, UUTF member, made an ugly
and veiled threat towards the south end. Mr. Dowell said to Tom
Bradford, "Do the plaintiffs that filed lawsuits with
interest rates trending up know what they are costing us?... The
delay? .... Tom, I hope someone tells them….goes hand
in hand with sand." The UUTF members all laughed.
THE TOWN OF PALM PLUMMETS INTO THE RABBIT HOLE, THE REAL VICTIMS
HERE, UNFORTUNATELY, ARE THE TOWN’S RESIDENTS AND PROPERTY
Does Not Exist In Palm Beach!
taken Nov.16th at Bradley Park during high tide further
demonstrates that even though the Town of Palm Beach and
pro-underground supporters are IGNORING THE RISKS &
DISADVANTAGES to converting to underground utilities on a
FLOOD-PRONE BARRIER ISLAND, IGNORING THE DISADVANTAGES DOESN’T
MAKE THEM ANY LESS POTENT WHEN YOU DO A PROJECT DESPITE ALL THE
WARNING SIGNS OTHERWISE. JUST MAKES FOR A SELF-FULFILLING
of transparency by the Town of Palm Beach has reached major
proportions when it comes to revealing accurate specifics and
facts about the Town-wide conversion Underground Utilities
Project. What the residents of Palm
Beach are totally unaware of is that keeping them in the dark
about the Town’s long term goal to begin this Town-wide
conversion to bury utilities, has been surreptitiously occurring
for about 15 years.
blueprint of the conversion Underground Utilities Project was set
in motion as early as 2003. However,
throughout the nearly 15 years since that time, the Town never
sought the approval of the residents to undertake this Town-wide
vote to proceed with the Project was taken ONLY by the Town
Council at the October 14, 2014 Town Council Meeting. At that
meeting, the Town Council voted unanimously to proceed with the
Underground Utilities Project WITHOUT ANY PRIOR VOTE BY ALL THE
RESIDENTS OF PALM BEACH.
Town Council allowed registered voters only to vote on financing a
Project that had already been unanimously approved by the Town
Council. There was a Town of Palm Beach
Referendum on March 15, 2016 entitled: "Town of Palm Beach,
Underground Utilities Project General Obligation Bonds." The
Referendum specifically stated, "…shall Town finance
burying utility lines…by issuing General Obligation Bonds not
Referendum was a vote by registered voters ONLY and ONLY on the
financing approach to be used for the not to exceed $90,000,000 or
$152,000,000 (principal and interest) Non-Essential, Town-wide
Underground Utilities Project. NO PRIOR VOTE BY ALL THE RESIDENTS
ON WHETHER OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH THE PROJECT WAS EVER CONDUCTED.
according to the Draft Comprehensive Plan, "The conversion of
the overhead utilities to underground locations will be one of the
most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the Town
of Palm Beach."
Project has already gone over budget before it has even begun!
At the Underground Utilities Task Force (UUTF) meeting on January
5, 2017, a Town retained engineering consultant reluctantly
admitted that they have already exceeded the $90 million maximum
to Task Force members. Tom Bradford, Town
Manager, was forced to confirm that the Town-wide Underground
Utilities Project has exceeded the Referendum amount, which was
specified to not exceed $90,000,000.
in this Town there is a transparency problem when it comes to
giving all the accurate and specific facts to its constituents. The
Town Manager eludes and refuses to answer a direct question by one
of the Task Force members as to EXACTLY HOW MUCH THE TOWN HAS
EXCEEDED the Referendum maximum amount for the Project.
that meeting, there has been a January 12th Town Council Meeting,
a Special Task Force Meeting on January 23rd, an update given at
the Civic Association also on January 23rd by the Town Manager and
still no number or percentage of the
amount of cost overruns has been given to the public. How is that
good and honest transparent governing?
Town has now indicated that they plan to use Internet providers to
lower the cost of the Project. To do this, the Town has contrived
to make a deal with the internet providers. However, this is the
only information that the Town is offering to the public.
Meanwhile, the Town has touted new wonderful Fibre Optics as a
side benefit to undergrounding their utilities. Let us look more
closely at that.
the Town of Palm Beach claims that High Speed Broadband and Fibre
Optics are a plus to underground utilities conversion for Town
residents, the real facts are once again
being kept from the public.
Forbes Magazine, March 4, 2013 article, "Why
High Speed Broadband Fibre Is Becoming Irrelevant",
offers the facts as to why the Town of Palm Beach is so out of
touch with "state of the art" technology that they are
offering to install out of date technology in a Project that will
take at least 10 years to construct and 30 years to pay off.
According to this article in Forbes Magazine, "But the truth
is that fibre based broadband is increasingly becoming an old
technology and it’s simply not worth insisting that it be laid
across the country. The reason is that wireless broadband is
getting much, much better and extremely rapidly too."
"We risk entirely wasting the money." "So why would
we spend billions (even tens of billions) on a soon to be outdated
technology like fibre optic broadband?"
Magazine says, "… that this is the beginning of the death
of wired broadband."
why on earth would the Town of Palm Beach plan to have outdated
technology installed Town-wide?
would the Town install a technology that will be obsolete before
it is even completely installed Town-wide and way before the
annual non-tax deductible special assessment payments are
can any thoughtful, reasonable person with common sense consider
the Town-wide Underground Utilities Project that the Town of Palm
Beach is pursuing undeterred, while gambling with taxpayer
dollars, to be a cost effective, sound financial decision?
Beach Faces Financial Chaos!
taken by Palm Beacher, Charles Pepper, 11/16 showing flooding along
the walking path of Lake Trial, Palm Beach. Why is Palm Beach
CONCEALING THE RISKS in their attempt to underground utilities on
this historically flood prone barrier island?
Town of Palm Beach is now facing financial chaos. The Town is determined
to do a project that exceeds the $90 millions cost that was voted upon
in the March 15, 2016 Referendum.
the December 2016 meeting of the Underground Utilities Task Force (UUTF),
which is advisory to the Town Council, it was decided that, at the
January 2017 UUTF meeting Tom Bradford, Town Manager, would present the
Master Plan and the Engineer’s Opinion of Cost for the Town-wide
Undergrounding Utilities Project. Neither was presented!
most important revelation was when Task Force members were told by Mr.
Bradford that the Town of Palm Beach, prior to even initiating this
Project, has an Engineer’s Opinion of Cost that exceeds $90 million.
a reminder, the Referendum included the specific language about the
costs and financing of the Project: "By issuing general obligation
bonds not exceeding $90,000,000…"
Task Force members were also told by Mr. Bradford, "We can not
access the G.O. (bond market) until the lawsuits are settled."
Bradford said, at the 1/10/17 Town Council meeting, "A number of
things happened in December taking us off track, including but not
"The Engineer’s Opinion of Cost is in excess of $90
"… the lawsuits will not be concluded until late May at best…
so we can not access G.O. bond financing until the lawsuits are
this Town Council meeting, Town Council President Michael Pucillo said,
have two issues here: One, the cost number, the other is the legal
impediment to doing a G.O. bond offering. If you can get the costs in
line and you are comfortable that we are at $90 million and no more, or
possibly less than $90 million, that takes care of one impediment. The
other impediment is G.O. financing.
Town Manager said, "Construction costs are rising."
Gail Coniglio asked, "If Tom Bradford is able to square the $90
million number, would we consider a short term financing option to
precede a G.O. bond?"
raised concern about alternative financing options: "We would be
getting away from $90 million in financing.…. Don’t be too anxious
to get a shovel in the ground…. We need to be as true to the citizens
as we can…. I am uncomfortable with alternative financing options….
Let’s get it right, even if it takes a little longer. The Town has
President Pucillo went on to say, "We did a Referendum because we
wanted to do a G.O. Legally we could retreat… but it makes me
uncomfortable…it is not what we told the people we wanted to do."
Member Bobby Lindsay Buck said, "It doesn’t sound like the
lawsuits are going to be resolved, but the biggest elephant in the room
may be whether we get the budget resolved! So let’s figure that out…".
Bobby Lindsay Buck asked Tom Bradford, "When will you actually have
a good number?"
Bradford said, "In 90 days or April 1st is realistic."
Town Council agreed to have Tom Bradford work on reducing the Project
budget (costs) not to exceed $90 million and report back to the Council
by April 1st.
is interesting is that the words spoken by the Council President, such
as, "If we win the lawsuit"…… "If you’ve won all
the cases" "…You haven’t gone through the trial first,
then you really don’t have a strong sense." "You may never
be able to do the G.O. and that is the concern I have." "I
think these lawsuits when I looked at them were frivolous, but they are
still out there." "The reality is, they are there, so."
there is Council Member, Richard Kleid, who instead of taking the blame
upon himself and his fellow Town Council members for putting property
owners in this predicament, instead, verbally attacked the two
individuals who brought suit. Kleid also stated that he feels, there
will be more lawsuits on this Town-wide Undergrounding Project, and
that, "They will go after the assessments and we are going to be
plagued by that." Yet, Mr. Kleid is in favor of interim financing
and said, "Don’t think now is the time to stop… I’m in favor
Coniglio stated, "There is tremendous discontent that we did not
have a tight enough handle on this."
Pucillo said, "In the presence of these lawsuits and the
unlikeliness to get them resolved by May…" The Town attorney
agreed that the lawsuits won’t be resolved until after May. Mayor
Coniglio asked, "I am wondering can we be in lawsuits for 2 to 3
years?" Council President Pucillo said, "We could be and
reality is that you could…"
all of that looming, is it responsible governance to continue to act as
if nothing is wrong and spend taxpayer dollars on this threatened
non-essential conversion to underground utilities on an historically
flood prone, high water table, barrier island?
Is Palm Beach Orchestrating A Cover-Up?
taken by Charles Pepper Nov. 16, 2016 at Seaspray Ave. in Palm
Beach. What more proof is there than this photo that illustrates
that the Town of Palm Beach is on a flood prone, low-lying, high
water table. barrier island. where saltwater intrusion occurs on
sunny days in high tide? Check out the bench, trash pale, walking
path & street, all underwater! How can Town Officials
ethically justify a Town-wide Underground Utility Project in a
Town that is clearly so vulnerable to coastal flooding like this?
would a Town set out on a planned path, as far back as 2003, to
convert to Underground Utilities throughout the Town and never
inform the residents and property owners of the major and numerous
disadvantages of embarking on such a Town-wide project?
are Town of Palm Beach Officials and their surrogates twisting the
truth and concealing the major disadvantages to converting to
underground utilities on a low lying flood prone barrier island?
Town-wide Palm Beach Undergrounding Utilities Project has life and
safety concerns that the Town continues to ignore, deny and
review the accurate facts that I researched and revealed in my
2016 news articles. These facts establish that the Town of Palm
Beach is determined to move forward with a non-essential,
"aesthetic" project that is totally flawed.
following are the significant facts which are "buried"
in the Town’s major cover-up.
1: Eminent Domain and Easements
a property owner refuses to allow a transformer or a large switch
box and "ground level equipment" on their front yard
property for an easement, the Town will invoke a "quick-take
condemnation and seizure process" or as stated in the Town’s
current Draft Comprehensive Plan, "Eminent Domain"
against the property owner. In other words, the Town can obtain
possession of the private property without a trial.
Town’s condemnation of private property will take place unless
multiple property owners decide to legally challenge this action,
as has been done in other States. Or, after the process, property
owners can take legal action against the Town challenging the
amount to be paid for the seized property.
actions can cost the Town time and millions of dollars from the
legal fees and judgments incurred against them. The legal fees are
going to the law firm with which the Town’s attorney is
associated. Thus far, the Town is not getting cooperation from the
"noticed" property owners.
2: Special Assessment Increases
confirmed in the Town’s current Draft Comprehensive Plan,
"Project cost may exceed approved referendum amount."
The Town, (as agreed upon by the Town Council), has the right to
increase the annual Special Assessment for each property owner at
any time during the 30 years of annual non-tax deductible
a property owner does not pay any of the Town’s special
assessments for the Utilities Undergrounding over the next 30
years of annual payments, the Town will invoke
"FORECLOSURE" ON THE PROPERTY, regardless of
4: Longer Outages
a September, 2014, PB Post article, listed among the
"Potential Disadvantages" for "underground electric
systems" are: "environmental damage including soil
erosion, habitat disruption; longer duration outages and MORE
customers impacted by outages; susceptible to flooding; storm
surges and damage during post-storm cleanup; life expectancy is 30
years vs. 50 years for overhead systems."
5: Conversion Problems
the FPL website, listed as "DISADVANTAGES" to
undergrounding of utilities and conversions in older communities,
are: "Longer duration of outages"; "More
susceptible to flooding, which delays restoration efforts";
something NO ONE in the Town of Palm Beach has any idea about:
"REPAIRS OF UNDERGROUND LINES MAY REQUIRE PRE-ARRANGED
OUTAGES AND EXCAVATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY"!!
6: Intracoastal Submarine Cable vs. Underground Conduit
Intracoastal Submarine Cable is very different from an Underground
Conduit. The cable under the Intracoastal is a
"Submarine" cable which is continuous, without
connections, splices ("taps") or transformers. In
contrast, the Underground Conduits have "taps" or
splices at every four houses to connect to transformers and the
transformers are above ground. Each of the transformers has
additional "taps" to feed each of the four houses it
serves. These "taps" have to be made
"accessible" and therefore are more difficult to seal
and make water tight. It is virtually impossible to seal all the
"taps" for the connections required. EACH CONNECTION IS
A POTENTIAL AREA FOR WATER INFILTRATION. THE SUBMARINE CABLES
UNDER THE INTRACOASTAL ARE BY DEFINITION WATERPROOF AS COMPARED TO
THE UNDERGROUND CONDUITS PLACED UNDERGROUND IN SOIL.
July 7, 2016, The Daytona Beach News-Journal says, "In
case you’re wondering: Why don’t they simply bury the
lines?" The Journal quotes Ralph Grant, FPL area manager, who
is in charge of Flagler and Volusia counties. FPL’s Grant said,
"Buried lines are more susceptible to flooding in coastal and
low areas and can be difficult to maintain and repair."
7: Repair Problems
the publication, Florida Today, after Hurricane Matthew,
FPL President and CEO, Eric Silagy, confirmed that, UNDERGROUNDING
"is not a silver bullet". Silagy also said that areas
that undergrounded utilities have problems "if repairs need
to be made. Underground utilities are more difficult to access
than traditional overhead power lines."
8: Flood Delays
spokesman, Bill Orlove, gave an example of how problematic
undergrounded utilities can be. This is a sharp contrast to
overhead poles, especially the new upgraded hurricane proof
hardened ones. Mr. Orlove referred to the inland community of
Wellington, where their utilities are undergrounded. He explained
that when Tropical Storm Isaac struck Florida back on August 28,
2012, Wellington was flooded. As a result of the undergrounded
utilities, FPL could not restore power in Wellington until the
flood waters receded, when they could try to find where the
repairs were needed and then proceed to get at them.
Head Island was touted by Town Official, Thomas Parker as having
undergrounded their utilities and fared well following Hurricane
Matthew. In contrast to Parker’s inaccurate claims, it was
revealed through research that "On Hilton Head Island,
thousands remain in the dark." This was reported in a local
newspaper, The Island Packet, 10/11/16.
9: Saltwater Intrusion
newly published, 11/1/16 scientific study, to "identify
sea-level rise impacts on coastal protection….and energy
infrastructures.", states, "Expansive areas of low
elevation in many….coastal areas are at elevated risk of storm
surges and flooding …, as a result of sea-level rise. These
phenomena could have catastrophic impacts on coastal communities
and result in the destruction of coastal infrastructure…"
rise of sea-level is likely to cause saltwater intrusion into
coastal groundwater systems affecting ….. underground utilities
that could be vulnerable to damage when in contact with the
"Emergency Information" from "One Call, New
Jersey" it states "If a buried electrical line is struck
in wet soil/conditions, the ground may become energized for a
large area around the strike."
to FPL, "While underground facilities are not as susceptible
to wind and debris-blown damage, they are MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO
WATER INTRUSION and local FLOOD DAMAGE, which can make repairs
more time consuming and costly." "UNDERGROUND
INTERRUPTIONS…typically last longer due to more complex repair
requirements. Following …hurricanes, we’ve found that areas
that took the longest to repair were generally those served by
underground facilities still flooded days after the storm passes.
DAMAGE AND CORROSION OF UNDERGROUND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS OFTEN SHOWS
UP DAYS OR EVEN MONTHS LATER, CAUSING ADDITIONAL OUTAGES AND
INCONVENIENCE TO CUSTOMERS."
12: "State of the Art" Technology
defies logic for the Town to plan to subjugate its residents to a
conversion of overhead utilities to underground utilities on a
flood prone barrier island when "State of the Art"
technology for overhead utilities is available!
10, 2016, The Wall Street Journal says, "From 2008
through 2017, the U.S. government and utilities are expected to
spend more than $32 Billion on smart-grid and storm-hardening
technology, according to a federal report. That includes systems
designed to resist wind, flying debris and FLOODING- and allow
power providers to identify damage and restore electric service
in their "2015 Electric System Improvements in Palm Beach
County" said that that they "are committed to building a
stronger and smarter grid to deliver electricity customers can
count on in good weather and bad." FPL said that "Smart
grid switches automatically re-energize- improving the
self-healing capabilities of the grid. e.g. when a tree branch or
palm frond touches an overhead line, it can create a momentary
outage or ‘flicker’ for customers." "If this occurs,
the switch will open and de-energize the line to isolate the
issue, ensuring fewer customers experience the outage."
IS REALLY GOING ON IN THE TOWN OF PALM BEACH?
Beach’s Misinformation Campaign
in blue & yellow show flood areas in Palm Beach. Source: FAU
Center for Environmental Studies, Keren Bolter, PhD; Underground
utilities are susceptible to flooding! If Palm Beach undergrounds
Town-wide, get ready for long power outages!
taken by Charles Pepper, 11/16/16 shows flooded walking path and
partially submerged bench, on a sunny day in Palm Beach. How can
Officials justify Town-wide Underground Utilities in a low lying
barrier island Town that is this flood prone?
does a municipality like the Town of Palm Beach find it necessary
to use misinformation in their multi-media pro-undergrounding
utilities campaign? Town Officials that
condone through their silence, or participate in this public
relations misinformation campaign, become complicit in this
unsafe, unreliable boondoggle that is an insult to the
intelligence of their Palm Beach constituents!
Town Officials and their large scale public relations campaign,
sponsored with taxpayer dollars, are in full throttle in order to
spin what they claim to be "facts" so as to convince
property owners that Palm Beach needs to underground their
use the slim passage of a referendum, that only dealt with a
method of financing as a means of justification so as to continue
to spend monies and attempt to initiate this ill fated disastrous
project, is a cop-out for Town Officials. It does not remove them
from their responsibility to constituents and property owners’
quality of life as well as safety and reliability of utility
e-blasts, brochures, automated phone calls, Town Undergrounding
Task Force Meetings, local newspaper articles and editorials
written in the local newspaper by biased public officials, are
fully focused on the same end goal. All make different pro-undergrounding
month, FPL sends its bills to Palm Beach customers. Enclosed with
each bill is the "Energy News" published by FPL. This
month’s copy is shown in photo (top right). FPL advises to keep
all utilities clear of vegetation in order to avoid debris falling
on transformers and power lines. According to property owners in
the north end, the Town does not do any trimming. If called upon
by a municipality, FPL will do the trimming when vegetation has
been allowed to get too close to the power lines.
viewed while driving on N. Lake Way in Palm Beach, a main artery
in the north-end of Town, trees and massive shrubbery are
encircling the utility poles and wires and the trees are
encroaching on the utility poles. Two things are evident in what
you will observe: 1- Vegetation, trees, huge shrubbery and vines
are growing wildly into the easements and areas of the utility
poles and wires that line the street. 2- The utility poles and
wires have not been upgraded, due to Town Officials wanting to
convert to underground utilities since as far back as 2003.
North-end residents have repeatedly told me that the problems are
happening because tree limbs and other vegetation are so close and
are hitting and falling into the power lines!
THE TOWN OF PALM BEACH’S CLAIMED POWER OUTAGE ISSUES ARE THE
RESULT OF THE TOWN’S OWN NEGLIGENCE!
have contacted the municipalities running from Juno Beach down to
Highland Beach. Out of 9 municipalities north and south of Palm
Beach, there was NOT ONE that claims to be having these
power issues, whether they are completely overhead utility power
lines or a mixture of overhead and some underground.
Juno Beach, I spoke with Andrea Dobbins,
Town Project Coordinator and Risk Manager. Ms. Dobbins said that
"really nobody lost power" during and after Matthew. She
told me that the Juno Beach’s utility power is mixed with mostly
"Hardened poles running through the Town and also along
the streets in areas that have flood issues." When I
asked, she said, "There is one area that floods even with a
heavy rain and we have hardened poles installed there." One
area in the municipality, known as "the Ridge" is
undergrounded. Ms. Dobbins explained that "the Ridge" is
at a much higher elevation. The Town’s Risk Manager made it
abundantly clear that they find the hardened poles work extremely
well. Apparently, Juno Beach, especially in flood prone areas,
decided to install hardened pole smart technology as the most
reliable source of power.
addition, the municipality of Juno Beach,
like the other municipalities that I spoke with, takes on the
responsibility themselves of "aggressively and pro-actively,
not reactively, trimming vegetation throughout the Town!", so
that they "take care of it even before it becomes an
issue." Ms. Dobbins said, "that since the municipality
does aggressive proactive trimming themselves, they rarely need
FPL to come in."
one of the municipality personnel that I spoke with, north and
south along the coastline, said they didn’t have power outage
fact, in Highland Beach, Public Works Ed Soper, was proud
to proclaim to me that they have NO POWER OUTAGE PROBLEMS
WHATSOEVER, BECAUSE HIGHLAND BEACH HAVE INSTALLED HARDENED POLE
SMART TECHNOLOGY TOWN-WIDE! In addition, Mr. Soper stated that
Highland Beach keeps all trees, branches and vegetation well
trimmed so not to obstruct in any way.
real fact is that the problems that exist in the Town Palm Beach
are not the fault of overhead utility power, but caused by neglect
of overgrown and dangerously close proximity of giant hedges,
trees and their branches. In addition,
the lack of allowing upgrades to the utility poles, like hardened
poles and smart technology, are contributors to the power issues
the Town is experiencing in those areas.
repeated misinformation campaign claim came
from PB Task Force Member, Tom Parker. He stated at the Task Force
Meeting and then later in a letter to the editor of the Town’s
local paper, that Hilton Head Island was undergrounded and fared
better than areas with overhead utilities during Hurricane
Matthew. He implied that they had no power outages during
Hurricane Matthew. This is not an accurate statement. The real
fact is that during and following Hurricane Matthew, "On
Hilton Head Island, thousands remain in the dark." as
reported in the local newspaper, The Island Packet, on
undergrounding utilities didn’t stop the island from suffering
power outages, nor would it in The Town of Palm Beach!!!
Palm Beach Gambling With Taxpayer Money?
taken at Bradley Park, Palm Beach, by the Intracoastal on 11/16/16,
begs the question: Why would Palm Beach convert to undergrounded
utilities which is documented to be susceptible to flooding and salt
water intrusion, when they are presently, even during a sunny day
and full moon, ALREADY UNDERWATER? Salty water, at that! Despite
Town claims otherwise, certainly, NOT a responsible move by Palm
Beach Town Officials.
is the Town of Palm Beach continuing to ignore the accurate facts and
instead, proceed to twist the truth in order to "sell"
undergrounding, while it expends taxpayer dollars for a new public
relations campaign to promote an unsafe and unreliable Town-wide
Undergrounding Utilities Project? This is clearly a situation in which
the Town is using taxpayer dollars on a gamble.
fact is that the Town of Palm Beach obviously knows the truth and
instead of doing their due diligence, they are spending taxpayer monies
on project design, public relations and engineering consultants. If the
lawsuits against the Town prevail, those taxpayer monies which amount
thus far to well over $2M, are wasted.
incomprehensible as it may seem, the Town of Palm Beach seems to be
spending taxpayer dollars well after the March 15th Referendum on
Undergrounding Utilities is over, just to impose a new campaign of
inaccurate information. Clearly, this is being done in order to make
their residents believe what they want them to believe.
is possible that the Condo News with its widespread circulation
has contributed to the Town’s panic as is demonstrated by its stream
of e-mail blasts, postcards, pro-undergrounding forums, arranged news
articles in the local paper promoting the project, a pre-recorded phone
message from the Town and more. Recently, the Town sent a four page
brochure entitled, "Undergrounding Today For A Better
Tomorrow". All of the public relations spin is in full throttle,
for what purpose, one would ask?
review some of the misleading and out of context statements that the
Town has made to its residents and analyze their accuracy. In order to
claim success, the Town of Palm Beach has been comparing their
Undergrounding Utilities project with tiny municipalities that have
fewer property owners and are not in flood prone areas as compared with
the Town of Palm Beach that consists of 9,500 property owners on a low
lying flood prone barrier island. Jupiter Inlet Colony, which has some
240 homes, claims that their newly installed undergrounding is proof of
better reliability, without even a severe rain event, flooding or
similar conditions. How does this compare with the Town of Palm Beach
that is located on a low-lying flood prone barrier island with 9,500
property units? The comparison is ridiculous and is intended to mislead
the public. Their Mayor’s report of no outages during Hurricane
Matthew, which missed his tiny Town, is neither valid nor a reliable
source of proof of anything but a defensive attitude by someone who is
rationalizing the Undergrounding expenditure by his Town.
Town Manager of Jupiter Island, another source cited by the Town of Palm
Beach, says that they had no flooding and only two inches of rain. That
report has no bearing on the fact that Matthew, in these areas, was
NOT a flood event. Therefore, whatever occurred in areas of Jupiter
Island that were undergrounded, has no bearing on the danger it is to
Palm Beach Island. More proof as to the Town of Palm Beach’s arrogance
and misdirection in the following:
the FPL website, listed as "DISADVANTAGES" to
undergrounding of utilities and conversions in older communities,
are: "Longer duration of outages"; "More susceptible
to flooding, which delays restoration efforts"; Plus, something
no one in the Town of Palm Beach has any idea about: "REPAIRS OF
UNDERGROUND LINES MAY REQUIRE PRE-ARRANGED OUTAGES AND EXCAVATION OF
all of my research on Underground Utilities explained in past articles,
we know there are many more risks and disadvantages, including
explosions from gases building up in the conduits, among other major
problems that will occur at some point in time.
have an even clearer warning that should not be ignored. On July 7,
2016, in the Daytona Beach News-Journal they describe FPL’s
"… hardening project includes replacing wood poles with concrete
poles and adding poles to shorten the distances between poles so the
system can withstand winds of up to 130 miles per hour close to the
Daytona Beach News-Journal says, "In case
you’re wondering: Why don’t they simply bury the lines?"
The Journal quotes Ralph Grant, FPL area manager, who is in charge of
Flagler and Volusia counties. FPL’s Grant said, "Buried lines
are more susceptible to flooding in coastal and low areas and can be
difficult to maintain and repair."
would any municipality that is historically flood prone and low lying
not keep up with the current times and technology in order to ensure
that their residents and property owners have the safest and most
reliable utility power, telephone, T.V. and internet services?
Town of Palm Beach began its journey toward this Undergrounding effort
in 2005 and ramped it up in 2006, following Hurricanes Frances, Jean and
Wilma. Eventually, the Town Council decided that they could not control
the costs of such a project and it disappeared from the agenda of
subsequent Town Council Meetings. This is more evidence of the lack of
transparency in the Town of Palm Beach.
even the general public was aware of what took place at that time,
anymore than they were on October 14, 2014 when the Town Council, with
no prior education of the public on the advantages and disadvantages,
voted, unilaterally, to underground utilities town-wide.
is a perfect example of how the Officials of the Town of Palm Beach have
failed their property owners.
Happened To The Town of Palm Beach’s Responsibility To Protect
Its Property Owners?
full moon and high tide on a sunny day in the Town of Palm Beach.
Just imagine a Town-wide undergrounding of utilities on this
low-lying coastal barrier island. Perfectly described in a photo
taken on 11/16/16 by Photographer & Palm Beacher, Charles
Pepper: "By the way, the water I walked in on the Bike Trail
was just to my knees and very salty. My dog, Tapioca was swimming
… I have NEVER seen water this high but in the last few years, the
tides on the Bike Trail have been getting higher every year…"
is time that the Town of Palm Beach Town Council confront its unanimous
decision, by a vote of 5-0 at the October 14, 2014 Town Council Meeting
to approve a $90M plus interest, Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities
Project, WITHOUT ANY PRIOR INPUT FROM ALL PALM BEACH RESIDENTS.
WERE NO ATTEMPTS, PRIOR TO THEIR DECISION, TO EDUCATE THE PROPERTY
OWNERS WITH ACCURATE FACTS THAT INCLUDE ALL THE DISADVANTAGES. Nor
were the property owners part of the decision as to whether they wanted
to Underground Utilities in a Town-wide project in the first place.
Palm Beach registered Voters ONLY, and not all Property Owners were
asked to vote ONLY on the financing mechanism for this project, in the
March 2016 Referendum, which was narrowly approved by ONLY 62 votes, out
of 4,286 voters.
the Town of Palm Beach, the world renowned destination, is knowingly and
intentionally deceiving its trusting, uninformed residents with
misinformation about what it claims to be "improving safety and
reliability" by converting, Town-wide, to undergrounding all
utilities on their low-lying flood prone barrier island, so as to
achieve its irresponsible and misguided objectives!
new scientific study just published on November 1, 2016 is providing
conclusive evidence that the Town of Palm Beach, located on a low-lying
flood-prone barrier island, SHOULD NOT embark on a 10 year
Town-wide construction project to bury electric, cable and telephone
objective of the study, "RESILIENCE OF INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS TO
SEA-LEVEL RISE IN COASTAL AREAS; IMPACTS, ADAPTATION MEASURES AND
IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES" by B. Azevedo de Almeida and A.
Mostafavi, is to "identify sea-level rise impacts on coastal
protection….and energy infrastructures."
study further states, "Sea-level rise is one of the most concerning
and costly effects of climate change." "Expansive areas of low
elevation in many….coastal areas are at elevated risk of storm surges
and flooding …, as a result of sea-level rise. These
phenomena could have catastrophic impacts on coastal communities and
result in the destruction of coastal infrastructure…"
Town of Palm Beach needs to recognize that it is surrounded on three
sides by water: Lake Worth Inlet to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the
east and Lake Worth to the west. The Town’s historic flooding events
have been long documented, as well as recalled by many Town residents.
detailed and well researched study on sea-level rise can not be ignored.
For the Town Council to continue to disregard the facts of sea-level
rise and flooding, as well as all the major negative impacts and
consequences of their decision to convert to underground utilities
Town-wide, is both egregious and reckless!
appears appropriate to address the blind determination of the Town and
its supporters of the project to ask, "For what purpose? Is this
all for aesthetics? What is really going on here?"
to this scientific study, sea level rise impacts coastal areas and "Low-lying
coastal areas are particularly susceptible to storm surge and flooding
from torrential precipitation and the community effects can be
catastrophic." "As sea level rises and water tables
approach the land surface, the frequency and severity of flooding …
will increase. Hence, it no longer takes a strong storm to cause coastal
large number of communities are already exposed to coastal
flooding." The Town of Palm Beach is one of those municipalities.
rise of sea-level is likely to cause saltwater intrusion into coastal
groundwater systems affecting ….. underground utilities that could be
vulnerable to damage when in contact with the saltwater."
sea levels will increase the degradation of energy infrastructure
materials with corrosion by saltwater intrusion due to inundation…."
"…energy equipment is NOT designed to withstand saltwater
particular…the exposure of underground utilities and assets may affect
pipelines and equipment." "As sea
levels rise and coastlines erode…infrastructure systems start
displacing significantly to the point that they become hazards to
Study clearly cites how "protection of energy facilities is
achieved by ‘hardening’ the structures, either by building new
enhanced infrastructures or upgrading the existing infrastructures.
Hardening energy infrastructure across the supply chain is part of the
energy industry’s responsibilities to ensure that the existing
infrastructures will be able to deliver energy to its customers under
extreme weather events. Some industries choose
to make physical changes to its infrastructure to make it less likely to
be damaged by extreme winds, flooding, or other weather events."
fact, we know from previous articles, that FPL is succeeding and will
place "hardened pole smart technology" throughout the Town of
Palm Beach, at no cost to property owners. However, the Town of Palm
Beach is refusing to allow these upgrades to be installed. That is in
fact a major contributor as to why there are parts of the Town that
claim they are having brief power outage issues. The Town has refused
the upgrades, which is a major reason for any problems that may exist.
Study also cites "Entergy Corporations", who "made a
study that identified a number of potential hardening measures, such as
replacing wooden transmission and distribution poles with steel or
concrete …" "In response to more recent storms, such as
Hurricane Isaac, Entergy representatives note that the implementation of
these adaptive measures has paid off. They have experienced less
infrastructure damage and have restored power to their customers more
quickly than in previous storms."
is more proof why the hardened pole technology was developed and is now
being implemented in coastal communities and cities to safeguard them
from storms and sea level rise!
it appears since the Town Council refuses to stop this ill-fated
Town-wide project, that the two lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs,
are the only option to force the Town’s leadership to undo this
hazardous direction that they are currently directed towards on their
flood-prone low-lying barrier island. Instead, the Town should implement
hardened pole smart technology Town-wide. Let the areas that still want
neighborhood Underground Utilities projects to do so, at their own
Beach Property Owners Speak Out!
was a groundswell of opposition to a conversion to underground
utilities in a Town-wide project that occurred at the south fire
station in the Town of Palm Beach on Wednesday, November 2nd.
officials were swamped with frustrated and angry property owners
who have become educated and enlightened, (I was told from
articles in the Condo News), about the consequences of the
Town-wide undergrounding project. These residents have learned the
true facts about all the disadvantages and consequences of
converting to underground utilities on a flood prone barrier
a September, 2014, PB Post article, listed among the "Potential
"underground electric systems" are: environmental damage
including soil erosion, habitat disruption; longer duration
outages and more customers impacted by outage; susceptible to
flooding; storm surges and damage during post-storm cleanup; life
expectancy is 30 years vs 50 years for overhead systems."
Weigert, a Palm Beach property owner and resident, attended this
forum and said that, "… of the 40 attendees, 2/3rds were
property owners with objections to funding an extensive, costly
and probably ill-advised $152.4M project to bury Palm Beach’s
utilities." Mr. Weigert said, "The Town uses what they
cite as ‘FPL’s own data’ to establish their claim that
undergrounding performs better than overhead facilities," but
he points out that, "…. what is left out of that assertion,
is that the data referenced by the Town’s surrogates, offers no
statistically significant data for underground conversions in
flood-prone areas." He said that the supposed data the Town
is referencing is "system-wide" which includes new
developments that are not in flood areas, plus overhead poles that
have not all been upgraded yet to hardened pole smart technology.
Weigert said he has done extensive research on the subject and
that "the majority of FPL’s underground utilities are
within inland new housing developments. FPL admits that there isn’t
much experience in conversion of older communities on flood prone
areas, especially coastal barrier islands. FPL openly warns of the
potential problems with undergrounding in flood-prone areas."
He concluded, "The data the Town is supplying to the
residents is misleading, and often inaccurate."
Watts, a Palm Beach property owner who resides in midtown, also
attended. Mrs. Watts said, "…when property owners expressed
their concerns to the Town Manager, they were told that
property owners NEVER HAD ANY SAY in the decision made by the Town
to convert to underground utilities. They were told that the Town
Council made that decision when they voted 5 to 0 to convert to
underground utilities. Therefore, Town property owners never had a
say in it in the first place." Mrs. Watts emphasized,
"… the Town had a ‘bad process’ in this entire endeavor
to convert to underground."
Watts described the majority of attendees were overwhelmingly
against a town-wide undergrounding conversion project and the Town
Manager’s revelation appeared to upset the crowd. She described
a great deal of "push back" from the property owners at
the forum. The residents appeared emboldened by their opposition
and expressed a variety of issues that they felt the Town had
imposed on them without giving them a say. Mrs. Watts said that
regardless of what the Town Officials and their surrogates said to
justify the Town’s actions, the audience had objections and were
not dissuaded nor convinced by the Town’s justifications.
Watts said, "… property owners expressed their objections
that a conversion project to underground utilities was neither
safe nor reliable on their flood prone barrier island." They
opposed the process taken, the financing methodology with its
flaws and the utilization of a special assessment that they felt
has no merit. There were objections that property owners were
never informed by the Town of the disadvantages of undergrounding
on a flood prone barrier island. They had concerns about likely
cost overruns. The surge of opposition that was voiced was against
the Town’s repeated refusal to allow straw ballots for property
owners who are not PB voters, but are impacted and will pay the
annual special assessments. Property owners said that, due to the
lack of communication by the Town, registered Independents were
unaware that they could vote on the Town’s referendum during a
Watts said the Town had a "bad process" in this entire
endeavor to convert to underground utilities. Mrs. Watts said that
beside the unreliable and unsafe power that we will have Town-wide
with underground utility conversion, "… the efficacy of
using fiber optics, means the Town is using an old technology
which will assuredly become obsolete with the cutting edge
technology of wireless systems."
Essig, a realtor and property owner in the Town, was present at
Essig said that as a result of all the disadvantages to
undergrounding on a flood prone barrier island, plus the 30 year
annual special assessment, which are not tax deductible, "As
a realtor, full disclosure, which is a legal responsibility, will
in many cases definitely make it MORE DIFFICULT FOR PROPERTIES TO
MAINTAIN THEIR VALUES!"
us not forget that, including 10 years of construction or more,
each Palm Beach property owner/taxpayer will be paying a not
tax deductible, special assessment annually for 30 years! However,
the life expectancy of the outdated underground system is only 30
years, as verified by the Quanta Technology Report for Florida
all other reasons, converting to underground utilities is clearly,
neither cost effective nor a safe and reliable endeavor on the
flood prone barrier island in the Town of Palm Beach.
Pole Smart Technology Surpasses Undergrounding, Part 1
taken on 10/16/16 at Lake Trail, near Sanford Ave. This is only
high tide in Palm Beach! Imagine undergrounded utilities here
after a storm surge. "Water and electricity don’t
by Jimmy Shirley
to FPL, major U.S. newspapers, the Insurance Journal and news
channels, Hardened Utility Pole Smart technology with Automated
Switches is a highly successful technology that surpasses all
other methods of electric utility technology. Hardened Pole
Smart Technology, mandated by the State of Florida, made
restoration of power much more efficient following Hurricane
you will read in my upcoming articles in the Condo News,
will further demonstrate that Hardened Pole Smart Technology is
the most reliable and the safest method for reducing the number of
power outages and providing faster repairs. It has already been
proven to be far superior to conversion to undergrounding
utilities, ESPECIALLY IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS.
has invested more than $2 Billion to build a stronger, smarter
storm resilient grid. It has resulted in fewer outages and faster
is more than likely that property owners’ insurance companies
will take note of the Town of Palm Beach’s refusal to
incorporate Hardened Pole Smart Technology Town-wide, which is not
subject to flood impacts on a flood prone barrier island.
the October 10, 2016, Wall Street Journal, they explain
that, "Hurricane Matthew is stress-testing a costly new
effort by utilities and the U.S. government to make the nation’s
electric grid more storm-resistant. Early indications: the
investment is paying off."
Wall Street Journal goes on to say, "From 2008 through
2017, the U.S. government and utilities are expected to spend more
than $32 Billion on smart-grid and storm-hardening technology,
according to a federal report. That includes systems designed
to resist wind, flying debris and FLOODING- and allow power
providers to identify damage and restore electric service more
federal government stimulus monies enabled the utility companies
to spend multi-billions of dollars which the companies are
investing in this "state of the art" "cutting-edge
equipment". We know that utility customers, through FPL
billing, are already paying for this investment in the technology
for hardening of utility poles with smart equipment throughout FPL’s
customer areas, including the Town of Palm Beach. Palm Beach’s
FPL customers are paying for this even though the Town is planning
to underground utilities at an additional expense to property
owners. Regardless of whether the Town continues to reject the
hardening pole superior technology for their property owners or
not, FPL customers will continue to pay for these upgrades through
their bills. In addition, the fact is that our federal government
is also pouring our tax dollars into this hardening pole smart
technology, which shows their confidence in it, regardless of
whether the Town of Palm Beach takes advantage of hardening
technology or not.
October 10, 2016 News 4 JAX, out of Jacksonville, Florida,
reported that after Matthew, "Based upon FPL’s assessment
from this storm, the company’s investments are making a
difference for customers…" "These investments were
demonstrated during Matthew."
fact, News 4, based in severely flooded and wind impacted
Jacksonville, said that FPL reported, "NO POLES WITH HARDENED
FEEDERS SUSTAINED DAMAGE AS A RESULT OF MATTHEW."
Hurricane Matthew, ABC News reported that "Hurricane
Matthew caused a storm surge and massive flooding in Jacksonville,
Florida along with 100 mph winds."
not forget, that it was predicted that the coastal areas,
including the Town of Palm Beach and north of it, were thought to
expect storm surges of up to 6-8 ft. and incredible wave heights
along the coastline. What happened to Jacksonville, Florida and
other areas like it, including the Carolina’s, could have easily
occurred right here on our shorelines, but for a miracle of an
is more proof that conversion to underground utilities is not a
sound investment for the coastal Town of Palm Beach. However, the
Town of Palm Beach is still attempting to embark on this risky
of the most major perils of undergrounding, in flood prone coastal
areas like Palm Beach Island, is that undergrounding utilities
will be subject to flooding which will cause long term power
outages, as well as other disadvantages and issues.
after Matthew has proven that Hardened Pole Smart Technology is
superior and would best protect the barrier island community, the
Town continues to have their local Town newspaper write pro-undergrounding
utilities articles. Also, the civic groups that are influenced by
the Town are spreading misinformation at their pro-undergrounding
forums. In addition, the Town is sending out monthly pro-undergrounding
email newsletter blasts to all residents which are designed by a
public relations firm retained by the Town paid for with taxpayer
dollars. Likewise, Town staff is promoting pro-undergrounding
conversion for the entire Town. The Town has hired consultants and
engineers to be paid with taxpayer dollars who are already on the
job planning and ready to design the undergrounding utilities
of these actions are occurring in Palm Beach, despite the growing
opposition from the community, including two lawsuits against the
Town, while the rest of the nation has utility companies that are
supplemented by federal monies, investing billions of dollars
hardening utility poles, coating wires and using smart technology.
4 JAX reported that FPL has stated these smart devises show which
customers are out of power, eliminating the need for customers to
call in their outage and restore power more quickly. Automated
switches on poles and wires automatically de-energize when a
problem occurs, isolating the issue and then after clearing the
problem automatically re-energizes the line. These smart grid
switches improve self- healing capabilities of the grid. FPL with
hardened pole smart technology installs automated switches on main
power lines (feeders) and on smaller power lines (laterals)
serving neighborhoods and subdivisions.
is mind boggling that any flood prone coastal municipality would
now be attempting to embark upon a conversion to underground their
utilities and refuse the superior, safest and most reliable method
of electric power which is hardened overhead utility poles, coated
wires and smart switches which will withstand up to 145 mph winds,
flying debris and flooding. Besides, it
is currently being offered to Town property owners AT NO
that is exactly what is currently taking place in the Town of Palm
Beach. The Town is ignoring the facts and the perils of
underground conversion, which are many. Their historic flooding
issues are major and appear to have conveniently been ignored.
This is in addition to all the rest of the boondoggle which
includes cost overruns, years of construction and major disruption
to the Town, to name a few.
the Town of Palm Beach, through the misguided determination of
their Town Council and some of the Town’s Public Officials, are
rejecting the glaring facts of safety and reliability and are
blindly marching on with their conversion project at all costs.
of the overhead Hardened Utility Pole Smart Technology is
available to flood prone coastal municipalities like the Town of
Palm Beach. Without this new technology being installed throughout
the Town the risks are much too high on this flood plain barrier
island. Sooner or later the inevitable reality of storm surges,
major CAT hurricanes, tropical storms and rising tides from both
the Ocean and the Intracoastal are likely occurrences for Palm
Dodged The Bullet This Time - But What Did We Learn From Matthew?
11 years of no real major hurricanes here in south east Florida,
Matthew came along and shocked us into reality.
have most certainly "dodged the bullet" this time
around, but reasonable and practical minded people should have
learned some powerful lessons from listening to the news, which
described "catastrophic" conditions including storm
surges, intense flooding and the prospect that through these
impacts "people will die" as well as other warnings
stated by Governor Scott, predicting what was expected here in
Palm Beach County to possibly be a direct hit by Hurricane
fact is that the majority of Floridians have been complacent
throughout all the years we were spared a hurricane here in south
east Florida. We were totally unprepared for a CAT 3, 4 or even a
possible 5 hurricane, hitting our shores.
of us were shocked to hear the National Hurricane Service
prediction for Palm Beach County and north that forecasted
flooding, high winds and storm surges of 3-8 ft. This was a
warning that we were to expect tsunami-like wave heights pounding
the eroded beaches of barrier islands, like Palm Beach, washing
over seawalls, flooding roads and properties, forcing power
outages and leaving destruction in its path.
may have "dodged the bullet" this time, but it is
inevitable that sooner or later we will be in the direct path of a
powerful hurricane with all of its fury. We need to be better
prepared than we have been and it is most important in a State
that is known to be a "Hurricane Alley", that we should
have the most reliable and safest method of utility power, so that
we are not victims of long term power outages and their
consequences. The "State of the Art" method of
utility power is the highly successful hardening of utility poles,
coated wires with smart switches that are resistant to as much as
145 mph hurricane winds and not vulnerable to flood events!
though we were fortunate that the storm surge never took place and
the hurricane turned slightly east and went further north of our
shorelines, there were 70 mph strong winds, which did cause some
outages in different sections of Palm Beach County.
is so exceptional in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Palm
Beach County is the quick response times and repairs by our local
utility, FPL. They did a remarkable job!
MADE FOR FAR FEWER OUTAGES IN PALM BEACH COUNTY WAS THE FACT THAT
WHERE HARDENED POLES, COATED WIRES, SMART SWITCHES THAT WITHSTAND
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS WERE INSTALLED, THOSE POLES WERE SUCCESSFUL
IN PROTECTING US.
spokesman Bill Orlove said that "the hardened poles have held
up very well."
fact in the Town of Palm Beach, according to FPL’s outage maps,
the only area which has been confirmed, where there were
absolutely NO OUTAGES, whatsoever, was in the extreme south end of
the Town of Palm Beach and south of the Lake Worth Beach, where
they have the hardened hurricane proof utility poles. The same
is true of the Town of South Palm Beach, which also has hardened
is a FACT, that although the condos on South Ocean Blvd. in the
south end of the Town of Palm Beach do have generators, THE
GENERATORS DO NOT POWER the apartments or the entire condominium
complexes. These generators are only for the elevator(s), hallway
and lobby lights. The Town of Palm Beach erroneously communicated
to all of its residents via email that the generators prevented
the Town from knowing if there were outages in the south end. That
statement by the Town, repeated in their local paper, is totally
inaccurate and factually misleading.
have been residents in the Town of Palm Beach that have contacted
me, insisting that they predict, for certain, that the Town will
use this avoided catastrophe with the short term, (24 max to 72
hour) power outage in parts of the north end and a few areas in
midtown, described by the Town in their #2 hurricane update as
"widespread", as a public relations opportunity. One
north end resident described what they thought was the reason for
our upcoming public relations spin is "to legitimize their
incessant intent to underground the Town’s utilities." Then
coincidentally, right after the previous statement and predictions
of others was said to me, we ironically read in the Town’s local
paper, on Saturday, 10/8/16, that PB Town Council President said
that the short term outages are "a reminder of why they and
others supported the idea of burying the town’s utility
lines." If all the predictions are correct, this is the first
of a blitz of public relations statements and communications to be
directed at property owners, to reaffirm and reinforce the Town’s
been informed by others that have spoken to residents who live in
areas like PB Gardens, Tequesta, West Palm Beach, and North Palm
Beach communities that these residents all stated that their new
"hardened cement poles" made a big difference compared
to what they experienced in the past. They also said that where
the lines went down due to trees, etc., the reason for the outage
was clearly visible and repaired quickly.
even where there were outages with overhead poles, whether in the
north end or midtown of the Town of Palm Beach, as well as in
other communities, FPL did an excellent job because they restored
power in a few hours.
asked in the interview on Sunday, whether undergounding utilities
would have prevented power outages in a hurricane, better than the
hardened poles, FPL representative Orlove said that undergrounding
utilities is "not a silver bullet because water and
electricity don’t mix!"
Florida Today, after Hurricane Matthew, FPL President and CEO,
Eric Silagy, confirmed the statement by the FPL spokesman, that
undergrounding "is not a silver bullet. Silagy also said that
areas that undergrounded utilities have problems "if repairs
need to be made. Underground utilities are more difficult to
access than traditional overhead power lines."
Sunday’s Condo News interview with FPL spokesman Bill
Orlove, he gave an example of how problematic undergrounded
utilities can be. This is a sharp contrast to overhead poles,
especially the new upgraded hurricane proof hardened ones. Mr.
Orlove referred to the inland community of Wellington, where their
utilities are undergrounded. He explained that when Tropical Storm
Isaac struck Florida back on August 28, 2012, Wellington was
flooded. As a result of the undergrounded utilities, FPL could not
restore power in Wellington until the flood waters receded, when
they could try to find where the repairs were needed and then
proceed to get at them. It took much longer to restore the power
there than if there were the overhead poles. It is abundantly
clear that there would not have been a problem in Wellington if
the flood prone community of Wellington had converted to hardened
utility poles instead of underground utility wires.
CEO Silagy by his comment about underground utilities is, in fact,
confirming the example that Wellington demonstrates, with his
statement in Florida Today, by saying that it takes much longer
and is more difficult with undergrounding, "if flooding
results in outages in areas where there are underground
lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew are that in areas that are
flood prone, such as the Town of Palm Beach, which is on a flood
plain barrier island, the most reliable and safest method of
electric utilities is through overhead hardened poles, coated
wires and smart switches!
is clearly the lesson learned from Matthew.
and other Utility Companies in the U.S. have invested billions of
dollars to install the tested and proven hardened pole technology
to offset the flooding, storm surges and all that is inevitable to
occur in our future storms, whether it be a hurricane, tropical
storm or just strong rain events.
POLES IS UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED AS THE SAFEST UTILITY INSTALLATION
TECHNOLOGY TO WITHSTAND FUTURE STORM EVENTS, NOT UNDERGROUND
Is Palm Beach Ignoring "State of the Art" Electric
is ironic that the Town of Palm Beach, which is on a barrier
island, plans to bury the electric, cable and telephone wires in a
Town-wide project! As our readers know from the research and the
interviews in the Condo News, conversion to underground
utilities, in an older community, is at best a problematic
boondoggle with an assortment of issues that will follow!
legal challenges, namely the Carol Kosberg and Arthur Goldmacher
lawsuits are already hanging over it. In addition, the "State
of the Art" technology with its recent successes, forecasts
that this conversion project will likely be obsolete before the 10
years or more of this project’s construction period! It is
unfortunate that Town Officials have wanted to underground
utilities in the Town for so many years that they have ignored
"State of the Art" technology, which going forward,
after the conversion to undergrounding will be unavailable to
acknowledges in their own website that conversion of utilities
underground makes it difficult, if not impossible, when conduits
are buried to get at the problems or to upgrade the underground
equipment. Technology is moving so quickly, why would you bury
irony of the determination by Town Officials is that this is
happening at the same time that "State of the Art"
Utility Reinforcement, with its cutting-edge technology of
hardened hurricane proof poles, coated wires and smart switches
that can easily be upgraded, are available to property owners at
no cost! Instead, the Town of Palm Beach is intent on
undergrounding their utilities at a substantial additional private
cost to each of the Town’s property owners on a non-tax
deductible assessment basis.
fact all FPL customers, including those in Palm Beach, are already
paying for the hardening effort throughout the State on our FPL
bills and will continue to do so, regardless of whether Palm
Beachers pay an additional special assessment annually for 30
years for the undergrounding utilities project.
a number of Palm Beachers and others have pointed out to this
journalist, the Palm Beach Town-wide project saves FPL a fortune
in hardening infrastructure expenses, which have been mandated by
the State of Florida for FPL to provide to the Town of Palm Beach.
has also been pointed out that FPL’s Palm Beach customers would
pay all the construction costs for the undergrounding project to
the Town. This will therefore relieve FPL not only from the
responsibility of hardening the infrastructure, but also from the
expenditures that would have been incurred from such construction.
Palm Beach’s intended Town-wide Conversion Project is quite a
windfall for FPL!
utilities is an older technology! In fact, it was installed in New
York City in 1888! However, municipalities have learned that
conversion to it is a huge construction and financial undertaking
for any municipality. More importantly, it is of major proportions
in a municipality, such as Palm Beach, with 45 miles of wiring on
a flood plain barrier island, with ground level transformers and
switch boxes on the many winding side streets!
is simply unbelievable that the Town of Palm Beach, with all the
issues and major problems in store for their community as a result
of pursuing this ill-fated endeavor, are blatantly ignoring that
other utilities in other States are spending billions of dollars
to harden their infrastructure so as to ensure the most reliable
electricity for property owners.
a February 3, 2016, article in the Insurance Journal, "Sandy
Electric Utility Reinforcement Effort Pays Off in Blizzard",
readers are informed that "Electric utilities that spent
billions of dollars hardening infrastructure after Superstorm
Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in 2012 say those upgrades
helped keep the lights on during the Jan. 22-24 blizzard."
that were flooded in Sandy have been raised higher, stronger poles
and wiring were installed ….. . The utility also installed smart
switch technology like Con Edison, said John O’Connell, (PSPEG
Long Island), the company’s vice president of transmission and
in their "2015 Electric System Improvements in Palm Beach
County" said that that they "are committed to building a
stronger and smarter grid to deliver electricity customers can
count on in good weather and bad." FPL said that "Smart
grid switches automatically re-energize- improving the
self-healing capabilities of the grid. e.g. when a tree branch or
palm frond touches an overhead line, it can create a momentary
outage or ‘flicker’ for customers." "If this occurs,
the switch will open and de-energize the line to isolate the
issue, ensuring fewer customers experience the outage."
the last major hurricane in 2005, FPL has invested more than $2
billion across the areas we serve to make the electric grid
stronger and smarter."
FPL spokesman, Bill Orlove, as others in FPL have said, "Undergrounding
power lines are not a ‘silver bullet’ to prevent outages from
occurring, especially during severe weather."
Town of Palm Beach is in a flood plain and it is a known fact, as
FPL has stated, that with undergrounding, "…restoration
efforts after storms may be lengthened if underground power lines
are located in an area where there is flooding. Water and
electricity don’t mix."
real question is, why did Town Officials’ not follow the state
mandate issued to the utility, FPL, which is 99.9% reliable? The
cost would have been shared by ALL FPL customers, unlike the
undergrounding project, which will special assess each property
owner with inconsistent non tax deductible annual payments that
extend for 30 years.
Town Officials appear to be headed into the storm unperturbed!
Town Officials deny that there are any real issues or major
problems in store for this extremely disruptive conversion
project. The Town has re-hired a public relations firm in their
effort to convince the growing opposition in Palm Beach that the
project will be worth having at least 10 years of "in and out
of season" upheaval, traffic delays, increased costs and
question repeated by so many property owners, is, "Why?"
and "What is really going on here?"
will continue to research this issue, interview and keep our
Beach Needs to Confront the Realities of Their Undergrounding
by Maddy Greenberg
taken in April of 2016 following a rain storm on S. Ocean Blvd.
between Sloan’s Curve and Widner’s Curve. Undergrounding
Utilities on a flood prone barrier island is asking for trouble.
Town of Palm Beach’s Officials and Staff appear to be in denial
as their undergrounding utilities project continues to face a
multitude of obstacles that are just the tip of the iceberg.
a recent, 9/6/16 Town Undergrounding Utilities Task Force (UUTF)
Meeting, board members appeared to have difficulty accepting the
fact that the Town has a plan that is "optimistic and not
realistic." The harsh reality of this project’s impending
disruption, danger and subsequent debacle for future years is
unspoken and ignored!
they heard was that FPL was not ready with identification of
equipment locations nor field verification of major utility
elements. In addition, FPL had not determined easement needs and
locations. Members of the UUTF seemed surprised and in disbelief
that FPL had not complied with their schedule deadlines. Instead,
they were told by FPL that, in regard to the deadlines imposed by
the Town and their consultant, as far as FPL was concerned,
"We never agreed to it in the 1st place."
Task Force Members were also confronted with the fact that, at the
last minute, without prior consent of the Town, FPL retained an
"embedded contractor" or private contractor to do some
of the work that FPL should already have been working on.
Furthermore, the Town was informed by FPL that they will have no
contact or influence upon FPL’s contractor!
was discussion by the Town’s consultant that they needed to
identify "joint trench and conduits." As you may recall
in my previous article, those joint trench and conduits can be
combustible! They discussed the need for ground penetrating radar
because as was said, "You don’t know what you are going to
find when you start digging." According to the Town’s
engineering consultant, "The radar, if it swept the whole
area would be hundreds of thousands of dollars." The
consultant acknowledged that "Even the radar has a level of
uncertainty, like high water tables, soil type conditions, depth…."
was some mention, briefly, that there are also gas and water pipes
in all areas of Town, which makes this project, "…extensively
disruptive…" and would "…cripple this island!"
This information was swept past and everyone went back into the
false reality mode! They barely acknowledge the warnings and
insurmountable obstacles that make this conversion project in an
older community, on a flood prone barrier island, totally
May 2016, Danny Brannon, Undergrounding engineering specialist
consultant, spoke before this very same Town board. He gave them a
detailed account of the standard problematic issues that they will
encounter with FPL, Comcast and AT&T in the Palm Beach
Town-wide conversion to an underground utilities project. It needs
to be mentioned here that Mr. Brannon has extensive experience in
such projects as in Gulf Stream.
Brannon also detailed the unavoidable construction delays, which
he explained will undoubtedly extend the length of the project by
years. The small Town of Gulf Stream thought that their 2-3 miles
of undergrounding conversion would take 3 years, but now that has
been extended to at least 6 years! Palm Beach’s almost 45 miles
of undergrounding is proposed to take 10 years max according to
the Town, which seems unrealistically optimistic.
also explained to the UTTF members the cost overruns that they
should expect. Most importantly, he detailed the lack of
experience by contractors and the fact that regardless of what
Town Officials might believe, they will have no control over the
a brief moment in time, one UUTF member appeared to recall some of
Brannon’s warnings, by saying that she thought that they were
beginning to experience some of the FPL issues that Brannon had
warned about. The comment seemed to disappear into the mist, just
as Mayor Morgan’s description of Gulf Stream’s construction
sites, "as resembling the Benghazi suburbs." A false
reality took over again!
is no reason to believe that Palm Beach will be any different from
Gulf Stream with their conversion issues. The harsh reality for
the Town of Palm Beach is, the same pattern of delays has already
begun. There will be, unfinished construction sites, traffic
congestion, escalating costs of the project over the years,
assessment issues that remain, problems from property owners who
do not want transformers or switch boxes on their properties,
missteps and mishaps!
difference is that Palm Beach having been forewarned, has already
decided that if a property owner refuses to give an easement for a
transformer, or circuit box on their property, the Town will
legally take their property with a "quick claim deed",
without any recourse possible by the owner. Also, in the event
that any property owner does not pay their special assessment, the
Town has discussed the fact that they will foreclose!
week, on the local TV Fox News, there was a report of how the
Atlantic Ocean coastal waters are rising and the water in the
Intracoastal is rising as well. They discussed how there is only
one place for the water to go, over the banks and to flood areas.
Common sense tells us that Palm Beach, which is in the Flood Plain
and has serious issues on that front, is going to have more
flooding, just from rainwater, let alone tropical waves, storms
and hurricanes. Underground utilities with ground level
transformers and circuit boxes are vulnerable to outages and
flooding. Just as the below ground electrical conduits are not
water tight or waterproof, only water resistant! Does a water
resistant rain coat keep you dry in heavy rain or storms? In
"Emergency Information" from "One Call, New
Jersey" it states "If a buried electrical line is struck
in wet soil/conditions, the ground may become energized for a
large area around the strike." When there is flooding and the
electricity goes out, we know that FPL has told us they will not
come out to restore electricity until the flood waters completely
recede. Also, underground wire problems take longer to locate.
question by many property owners is, "What is really driving
the Town of Palm Beach in their determination to underground
Officials and their Staff need to rationalize why they are
spending over $2.1 Million taxpayer dollars out of the operating
budget to move forward with a $154 Million bond undergrounding
project that faces many obstacles. Regardless of how the Town is
attempting to ignore the lawsuits and move on, the lawsuits are
the elephants in the room!
simple solution to protecting Palm Beach’s utility
infrastructure with a proven 99.9% storm protection benefit has
been provided in a mandate by the State, requiring FPL to install
hurricane proof hardened utility poles and coated wires with smart
switches at NO COST TO THE PROPERTY OWNERS OF THE TOWN!
there is no benefit to any undergrounding utility projects in the
Town of Palm Beach!
Condo News will continue to keep you
informed about this very important issue.
Beach Residents Believe Lawsuits Will Prevent Town-wide
to the Town of Palm Beach’s Town-wide conversion to underground
utilities has continued to grow. The two lawsuits against the Town’s
Undergrounding Utilities referendum by plaintiff, Arthur
Goldmacher, (Lawsuit #1) and plaintiff, Carol Kosberg, (Lawsuit #
2) are spearheading this opposition to prevent a Town-wide
increasing support throughout the Town for the success of the
lawsuits comes from informed Palm Beach residents regarding the
magnitude of problems and issues that will ensue if The Town of
Palm Beach were to convert to underground utilities in the
approximate 45 miles of wiring within its boundaries.
issues of opposition extend well beyond the legal grounds and
complaints, to other concerns. The fact that, regardless of the
promises of Town Officials, Staff and Consultants, it is well
known that the 10 years of estimated ongoing construction will
likely take many more years to complete. In addition, during the
construction phases, predictable outages and unforeseen problems
will occur which will cause more delays!
the Town of Gulf Stream is experiencing in their conversion of 2-3
miles of undergrounding utilities project, Palm Beachers are
increasingly more opposed to the years of construction delays and
there is the financial quagmire for the property owners that
increases opposition to this Town-wide project and strengthens
support for the two lawsuits.
last week, a perfect example of how dangerous this undergrounding
of utilities can become, occurred in Providence, Rhode Island. It
happened in a commercial shopping mall area that had undergrounded
their utilities several years ago.
to the Providence Journal newspaper article, 8/27/16,
entitled "Mall Businesses Disrupted By Outages,"
Providence Place mall had a rough couple of days with three power
outages, "... a 115,000 volt underground cable supplying
electricity to three substations started to smolder and burn,
National Grid spokesman, David Graves, said Friday afternoon.
from gases building up in confined areas, he said, blew the cover
off of a manhole on South Main Street, stopping power to the
substations…." At the mall, firefighters came to rescue
people who were trapped, in darkness.
failure followed the next day, Friday, when about 8,300 customers
lost power. Later another call was received by the fire
department, where a fire in a kitchen of a restaurant attached to
the mall began and again there was a power outage.
this is not a unique situation when it comes to undergrounding
conduits and the gases that build up in them. Last year, in Palm
Beach, at the Sun and Surf Condominium garage, there was an
explosion that damaged cars. This was also due to gases building
up in underground electrical wiring conduits.
on a beach in Narragansett, R.I., last year, a person was hurled
from a beach chair because combustion caused by gases built up in
the underground cable under the sand and it exploded.
Long Boat Key, Florida, last year, there was an instance where a
large, above ground, electrical transformer circuit box for an
undergrounded area, exploded and caught on fire.
an FPL spokesperson has said, "Water and electricity don’t
mix." The Town of Palm Beach is within a flood zone area on a
barrier island. This means that the underground conduits and other
equipment are even more vulnerable to these problems that will
cause long term power outages and potential explosions in
flooding, tropical storms and hurricanes.
facts establish that, beyond the legal reasons to prevent this
Town-wide project, there are also life and safety concerns that
have been ignored by a Town that seems determined to move forward
with a non essential, "aesthetic" project that is
wants to spend the next 10 years or more of their lives
encountering construction zones, traffic delays and power outages
with possible escalating assessment costs. No real benefits will
result from this project other than questionable aesthetics when
it is completed.
Condo News and I will continue to keep
you informed and up to date with the facts about this important
Lawsuits Against Palm Beach Town-wide Project Move to Trial
attempt by the Town of Palm Beach to dismiss the first of two
lawsuits against their Town-wide Undergrounding Utilities conversion
project has failed. Both lawsuits continue to move forward to trial.
Arthur Goldmacher filed the first lawsuit against the Town in
Circuit Court in April of this year. Carol Kosberg, filed the second
lawsuit in mid- May.
previous Condo News articles I have covered in detail this
August 2nd, Judge Catherine Brunson ruled against Palm Beach’s
motion to dismiss the Goldmacher case. Shortly thereafter, Judge
Brunson was replaced by Judge Cymonie S. Rowe. On August 9th, Carol
Kosberg’s attorneys filed a "Motion to Consolidate" with
the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County.
interviewed Carol Kosberg’s attorneys from the firm of Weiss,
Handler & Cornewell. I interviewed the following members of the
firm; Henry B. Handler, William J. Berger and David K. Friedman.
Handler, Trial Attorney, answered my question as to whether the Town
of Palm Beach had ever filed a motion to dismiss the Kosberg case.
Mr. Handler confirmed with me that the Town had never filed a motion
to dismiss the Kosberg lawsuit. I can only conclude that the
statements made in a local newspaper and by the Town Manager, Tom
Bradford and by members of the Undergrounding Utilities Task Force,
are totally inaccurate. It is evident that these statements are
being made in an effort to diminish the merit and significance of
the lawsuit and are erroneous.
Berger, Trial Attorney, told me that a Motion to Consolidate the
Kosberg and Goldmacher cases had been made. He clarified to me that
each plaintiff’s case would remain independent in their
representation by their own attorneys. They are two individual cases
which will take place at the same trial. He confirmed that this
Motion has been placed before Judge Rowe, the new judge appointed to
is significant that Kosberg and Goldmacher will each be represented
by their own attorney in each of their cases. The reason is that
although both address some similar counts against the Town, the
Kosberg lawsuit which is being represented by Handler and Berger
takes their lawsuit much further because it contains additional
arguments. In addition to this fact, each of the plaintiff’s
attorneys will express their complaints in a different manner,
resulting in a different outcome from the Court for their respective
Town of Palm Beach had passed a resolution in December 2015 to
special assess all property owners for 30 years, starting November,
2016. This special assessment was scheduled to appear on the 2016
property tax bills. However, it will not occur!! As reported in the Palm
Beach Post, Town of Palm Beach Manager, Tom Bradford, verbally
acknowledged that the delay in the special assessment this year is
"… in case things don’t turn out the way we want in
court." Therefore, one can conclude that the special
assessments are not going forward this year because of the pending
is interesting that the Town continues to ignore the pending
lawsuits. The Town is withdrawing money from their operating budget
in the amount of $2.1 million to fund the first half of the
Undergrounding Utilities project master plan using taxpayer dollars.
Is this a responsible governance action undertaken by the Palm Beach
Town Council while two lawsuits are pending and may prevail? Are
they not gambling with taxpayer money at the risk of a legal outcome
which will nullify the entire project?
will continue to keep you updated as these two lawsuits proceed to
promised, this is a follow-up to keep you abreast regarding the
Town of Palm Beach Undergrounding Utilities Project.
time I meet Condo News readers, I am asked if anything is
happening with the lawsuits. There were two lawsuits filed by
different Palm Beach property owners against the Town of Palm
Beach RE: Undergrounding Utilities. Everyone I have met has been
cheering for the plaintiffs. All were opposed to town-wide
undergrounding. This is probably because my articles articulated
the various inevitable major issues, many of which remain
two lawsuits are separate and distinct from each other. The first
lawsuit was filed by Arthur Goldmacher and the second lawsuit was
filed by Carol Kosberg. While both lawsuits contain some
similarities, they stand alone on their own merit. It is important
to note that the second lawsuit has additional counts that are
significant in differentiating the two cases.
Kosberg’s attorneys had requested that the judge appointed to
them be changed. The attorneys asked that they would be given to
the same judge that was appointed to hear the Goldmacher case.
From my research, I have learned that having the same judge has
advantages for both the plaintiff and for the defendants when it
comes to things like, non-duplication of witnesses and court
costs. It appears quite telling that the Town of Palm Beach
strenuously objected to Mrs. Kosberg’s attorneys’ request. In
fact, at last Thursday’s hearing, the Town showed up with not
just the Town attorney, but also two additional attorneys to make
their objections to the change. The result of this challenge by
the Town was that Kosberg’s attorneys prevailed in their
request. Both cases now have the same judge for their individual
my opinion the Town’s objections indicate that having the same
judge is something the Town does not want. Therefore, the success
of the plaintiff in getting the same judge is a win for the
next time, be well, be careful and stay safe.
Lawsuit Threatens to Stop
Beach Underground Project
on S. Ocean Blvd. in a minor rainstorm. Imagine if underground
utilities need repairs on Flood Prone Barrier Island of Palm Beach
in a hurricane. Big problems!!
by Maddy Greenberg
Beach property owners who will pay to have their utility wires
undergrounded are now learning through the Condo News that
the "Success Stories" used by the Town of Palm Beach
prior to the March 15th undergrounding referendum vote, in
reality, were a "cover up" of the murky problems they
revelations of the debacle that has been happening in the
neighboring municipality of Gulf Stream as a result of their
Town-wide undergrounding project for 800 property owners was
acknowledged at the Palm Beach Public Meeting on May 3rd by the
Gulf Stream/ Palm Beach undergrounding engineer consultant! In
addition, this consultant, Danny Brannon gave a detailed summary
of the troubled path that will be encountered by Palm Beach
property owners as their conversion project goes forward.
the long list of unresolved problems continues to be revealed, the
question is why the Town of Palm Beach is still determined to go
forward with this undergrounding folly to convert the Town-wide
utilities of more than 9,500 property owners on a flood prone
to the referendum vote on March 15th, Town Officials had access to
all of the information I reveal in my articles. For one thing,
Gulf Stream and Palm Beach have the same Town Attorney. How could
Palm Beach, which had contact through Town Managers, their Town
Attorney and the same consultants that spoke at their public
meetings, not have known that Gulf Stream’s 2-3 mile conversion
to undergrounding in comparison to Palm Beach’s 45 miles, was
riddled with problems that would parallel Palm Beach but on a much
larger scale? Plus, add that to the fact that Palm Beach used Gulf
Stream as a "Success Story" in their advertisements in
order to get a favorable vote on the bond referendum. Now that
this has all come to light after the election, one has to wonder
why the Town Leaders would still be determined to move forward
with their Town-wide project.
stated in my last article, a second lawsuit was filed against the
Town of Palm Beach. The various counts cover reasons that seek to
invalidate the vote and halt the Town-wide conversion to
underground their utilities.
lawsuits have been filed by separate plaintiffs. Both plaintiffs
are doing a service for the 49.3% of the voters, Town-wide, who
constitute those that voted "against" the referendum as
well as a countless number of taxpaying non-registered voter
property owners. The plaintiff for the first lawsuit, Arthur
Goldmacher and the plaintiff for the second lawsuit, Carol Kosberg,
showed great courage to take these actions. They are performing a
heroic deed for almost half the Town’s voters who opposed this
referendum and for those who voted favorably not knowing the
financial and physical upheaval in store for them if this project
proceeds on a Town-wide basis. Their actions are deserving of
support and praise for their efforts to make right what they know
this article, I plan to raise some of the issues included in the
second lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of the 15th Judicial
Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Carol Kosberg, Plaintiff
vs. the Town of Palm Beach, Defendant.
lawsuit states the sources and order of payment that the Town
shall finance burying overhead utility lines for electric,
telephone and cable services "payable from Town’s full
faith, credit, ad valorem taxing power and non-ad valorem special
assessments" which was the ballot language. This means that
the Town must use ad valorem tax revenues First in order to fund
the conversion project. Full Faith and Credit ad valorem taxes
require the Town to raise taxes as often and as high as needed to
pay for project costs. It means that the Town would not run out of
money! Therefore, the special assessment would never be needed as
a source of payment. Town Officials clearly never had any intent
of using ad valorem taxes! Ad Valorem is based on property values
and is tax deductible. As stated in the lawsuit, "If the
underground utilities were paid in the manner called for in the
ballot language, then the owners of higher-valued properties would
pay more of their share of the cost through ad valorem taxation,
and the owners of lower-valued properties would pay less."
lawsuit continues, "Given the narrow margin of victory, the
misleading language in the ballot was of critical importance, and
likely tilted the results in favor of the referendum proponents.
As a result of the misleading language of the ballot that did not
fairly advise the voters to intelligently cast a ballot, the
outcome of the referendum election is illegal and void."
"Despite the order of payment set forth in the ballot and the
passage of the ballot, the Town has taken steps that indicate that
it intends to pay the bonds solely through non-ad valorem special
assessments although the bonds will be also payable from the Town’s
ad valorem taxing power in the unlikely event that revenue
collected from special assessments is insufficient to repay the
bonds." "There is an actual, present, bona fide
controversy between Plaintiff and the Town as to whether the Town
may implement the bond referendum approved by the Town’s voters
in a manner inconsistent with the ballot submitted to, and
approved by, the voters of the Town." The lawsuit claims that
"the Town is obligated to implement the ballot as written and
approved by the voters of the Town…." This means that
General Obligation (G.O.) bonds can only be paid by ad valorem tax
to the lawsuit, the bonds to be issued under a resolution passed
on December 8, 2015 by the Town Council violated the Town’s own
Code. The lawsuit cites that on March 8, 2016, a week before the
election, the Town Council approved an ordinance to amend the Town
Code to allow special assessment revenues to also be used to pay
G.O. Bonds. It appears that the lawsuit also challenges that the
Town could not change or amend their Town Code at the last minute,
because the new 2016 ordinance "is not retroactive."
Town Officials clearly do not want ad valorem for this project!
lawsuit contends that the "proposed special assessments
authorized by Resolution…, and the bond referendum are
unconstitutional, illegal and void."
suit claims that "a special assessment is a compulsory
assessment that confers a specific benefit upon the land burdened
by the assessment…" The lawsuit brings out that "For a
special benefit to exist, the amount by which the property is
benefited must be greater than the cost of the improvement
assessed against the property." The Town is using the Wildan
methodology for the special assessments and the complaint contends
it fails to analyze the construction costs. The suit, states that
"the Wildan Report is also fatally flawed in that it
assumes-without supporting evidence or analysis- that
undergrounding of utilities will benefit each parcel and contains
no analysis to show how Plaintiff’s property or any other
property will actually receive a ‘special benefit’ from the
proposed undergrounding (i.e., that any increase in value of the
properties being assessed resulting from the proposed construction
will be greater than the assessments to be levied against such
properties)." In addition, "the Town’s purported
distribution of safety/reliability/aesthetics by the Town at
30/30/40 does not appear to have any basis in reality." In a
footnote, the lawsuit adds, "There are also significant
negatives to undergrounding ignored by the Town such as lack of
reliability and safety when a hurricane and flooding occurs…."
The lawsuit claims that "The undergrounding of overhead
utilities as provided for in the bond referendum will not result
in a benefit to Plaintiff’s property greater than the cost of
the improvement assessed against the property."
is the desire of this newspaper and columnist to inform and
educate our readership so that this important subject and the
lawsuits that have been filed are vetted and understood by the
public. Important subjects and issues like this should not be kept
undercover, but exposed to the light of day!
Beach’s Underground Utility Conversion Financial Pitfall
update: As of May 13th a second
lawsuit was filed by a longtime Town of Palm Beach property owner
and voter, Carol Kosberg, against the Town of Palm Beach,
Undergrounding Utilities Bond Referendum. This lawsuit cites four
counts against the Town. In our next Condo News issue, the
details within the lawsuit will be revealed. It is this newspaper
and columnist’s intent to keep you, our readers, informed and up
to date on this important and ever expansive issue.
when we think we know all the murky problems that will befall
those property owners who are about to encounter Palm Beach’s
conversion to undergrounding utilities, yet another touted
"success story" of a completed undergrounding conversion
that the Town uses, has a major downside that needs to be aired.
is very possible that what we know about the debacle in store for
Town-wide property owners is just the tip of the iceberg. It is
unfortunate that the information below was not revealed to voters
and property owners prior to the vote on the undergrounding
utilities bond referendum. There are likely major pitfalls for
Town property owners that add to the financial burden for Town
residents that were never taken into account and should be
publicized. The following experience by a property owner, who has
gone through underground conversion in the Town of Palm Beach, is
astounding and will serve as a reminder for those who are
anticipating this project on a town-wide basis.
2011, four properties in the Via Fontana area of Palm Beach had
completed a neighborhood underground wiring conversion project.
Joseph V. Vittoria and his wife own one of the properties in that
project area. Their experience with the Town of Palm Beach is both
shocking and disturbing. What Mr. Vittoria describes that happened
to them, is a warning to all of Palm Beach’s property owners as
to what financial pitfalls are likely to befall many other
property owners as a result of this Town-wide conversion project.
Vittoria’s were given special assessment costs in 2010, prior to
the project’s installation. After the project’s completion, in
2012 the Vittoria’s were sent a letter from the Town, signed by
then Assistant Town Manager, Tom Bradford, which turned out to be
6 times higher than the original cost quoted in 2010. The
Vittorias are now obligated to pay a special assessment that is
excessively greater than they had originally agreed to and non tax
Vittoria’s received a second letter in 2012 a few months after
the first letter that same year. Both letters were signed by
Bradford. The letter increased the assessment amount even further
and it offered them the option to pay the entire amount up front.
The Vittorias did not take that option.
addition to this alarming situation that has occurred, there are
two interesting facts that differentiate the Via Fontana
undergrounding project from the planned Town-wide conversion
project in Palm Beach.
Vittoria didn’t receive his letter informing him that the
payments would begin until after the project was completed. The
Town now plans to collect the special assessment payments prior to
the project and all during the 10 years or more of construction.
The other difference is that in the second letter of 2012 from the
Town, they offered the Vittoria’s to pay upfront or prepay the
total which came after the project’s completion. The Town of
Palm Beach currently plans and has discussed at a public meeting
on Tuesday, May 4th, that they will ask property owners to prepay
the total prior to the inception and completion of the Town-wide
residents of Palm Beach are being expected to sign a blank check
without any merchandise, no idea what they are really getting, how
much it will cost by the end of the supposed 10 year project. If
Gulf Stream is any indication, it could be more like 20 years.
Both prior and since the vote, Council and their Undergrounding
Task Force have stated that if they run out of monies, they will
assess property owners again. A stunning revelation!
to Joseph Vittoria "I believe this project is an indicator of
what can happen for a future undergrounding initiative under the
auspices of the Town of Palm Beach." He explains that several
years ago he brought his case to the Town Council. He "was
told that it was unfortunate that we have been misled, but the
Town could do nothing." Since this was a Town neighborhood
project, who misled him? Is history going to repeat itself with
the town-wide special assessments?
Vittoria spoke up at an "undergrounding educational
meeting" at Bethesda-By-The-Sea on 11/16/15. He "was
told that it is always possible that the costs can change given
unforeseen problems which come up when the actual work is
done." Would that answer have satisfied you, if you found out
that your special assessment amount had increased to 6 times more?
response is apropos to the upcoming project and what will take
place for thousands of Palm Beach property owners. At that same
meeting, Joseph told the Town Manager "If an error that large
can arise with one property, how many might arise when the entire
island is done?" Joseph Vittoria said that he received no
answer to that question!
Vittoria told me he "should point out that the estimates
provided for the referendum are very similar to the original
estimate I received". "If a person reads the experiences
of Gulf Stream, one the Town of Palm Beach pointed to as a ‘success
story’ in its ‘information campaign’ it would be easy to see
that five years into the project, the timeline has doubled and
costs have tripled! Before we head down the same path, let’s
revisit this ill-conceived and certain to be under budgeted
project and do what’s right for all Palm Beachers."
Vittorias think their experience will be a parallel to what will
happen to many other Palm Beachers if the Town moves forward with
its Town-wide conversion to underground utilities.
is unfortunate that all Palm Beach voters were not privy to the
Vittoria’s undergrounding utilities conversion experiences prior
to the referendum vote. You can be sure that if Palm Beachers had
known this, many of those that had voted favorably, would have
either reconsidered or thought twice about the way they would cast
Beach’s Folly Will Be A Conversion To Undergrounding Utilities
road to Undergrounding Utilities continues in a protracted way for
the Town of Gulf Stream and a murky path lays ahead for the Town
of Palm Beach.
the 4/13/16 Town of Gulf Stream special meeting on the project,
Mayor Morgan & town officials were exasperated with all the
obstacles and costs they’ve encountered converting to
underground utilities. They discussed the fact that it’s going
to get even more frustrating for the Town’s residents. What they
thought was a $5.5M project 6 years ago could take 2 more years to
complete and is going to cost significantly more. (This, by the
way, is the project the Town of Palm Beach Officials lauded as a
of the debacle and the troubled path to undergrounding utilities
conversion that Palm Beach has chosen was evident when
Undergrounding engineering specialist consultant Danny Brannon,
spoke before the Palm Beach Undergrounding Utility Task Force (UUTF)
meeting on May 3rd. He gave a detailed account of the standard
problematic issues they will encounter in their Town-wide
Undergrounding Utilities conversion project.
Brannon stressed, "Inflation ends up being an impact that you
don’t expect." He explained that the construction bids will
be high and there will be cost overruns. UUTF Member and financier
Wilbur Ross asked "whether FPL will absorb the cost over runs
or not?" Brannon responded, "No. If their costs exceed
10% of the amount, they can bill you that number."
said "The construction industry has been dormant for several
years. Resources have been limited. A lot of people are new, not
experienced, not in their budget, not planned for. Therefore, when
you are trying to come up with who will work on this, it has been
very difficult for them."
admitted, "The length of the projects typically runs longer
than you anticipate." With timing schedule delays, climbing
construction costs and the eventual removal of the poles and wires
after the undergrounding has been set up, there are undeniable
problems that occur.
of the issues in Gulf Stream had to do with the length of time it
has taken them to get off the poles down there." For Phase 1,
ATT "should be down this week. It was 2014 when we finished
building the underground system." He said Comcast finally
came down about 3 weeks ago.
can push them, call them & talk to them, but you have a
limited amount of control over those utilities."
small municipalities like Gulf Stream, where Phase 1 could be no
more than 1.5 miles of buried wire, took 2 years to bring the
poles down. Only after that, can the landscaping finally be
restored and the construction sites removed. How long will it take
the Town of Palm Beach with over 45 miles of undergrounding to be
done, to complete the project, remove all construction sites and
then restore the areas to their original condition? Just do the
math for yourself. It certainly doesn’t add up to 6-10 years,
when 2-3 miles of Gulf Stream is taking at least 7 years.
Member Susan Gary, a prior consultant with governmental projects,
pointed out that Palm Beach’s project as compared to Gulf Stream
"is 15 times larger and is massively bigger."
stated, "ATT & Comcast are pretty much independent"
"We have found that Comcast & ATT schedules usually run
significantly longer." In "Jupiter & the Colony,
about the length of time it took for ATT & Comcast to get off
the poles.., was like 2 years." "That is about the size
of one Phase of your project." (Palm Beach unlike the small
projects of these other municipalities is over 45 miles of
underground conversion and multi Phases.)
Brannon said even if FPL’s part of the undergrounding system is
installed, as long as the poles are there, "FPL would
continue to keep those lines energized." Live wires and poles
remain for years waiting to be removed.
will not remove their material until the communication companies
vacate the poles. FPL is the last to come in & take their
companies have a ‘Joint Use Agreement’ that allows them to be
on the poles as long as the poles are there. The communication
companies will not come out typically & begin their work until
the FPL installation is complete." Only then do the
communication systems underground and install their underground
piping system, including equipment, but apparently this is done at
said, "ATT & Comcast work on these projects when other
things don’t pull them away. This is a non revenue generating
activity. They have new construction….they generate revenue on….if
they have outages, emergency situations, restore service….then,
they come back & do your project."
explained about "FPL on the front end in producing Binding
Cost Estimate (B.C.E.) engineering. In Gulf Stream, Phase 1,
Binding Cost Estimate (specs & drawings) took 12 months (1
yr.) to deliver. We filed a complaint with the Public Service
Commission and FPL said the delivery of the design and cost
estimate for Phase 2 would be within 6 months. Phase 2 was 18
months, (1 yr. and 6 months)."
Member Ross asked if "the Binding Cost Estimate is worth
waiting for?" Brannon responded that it is "a required
Brannon explained that there is no control over FPL and the length
of time it takes them to make the drawings and do their part prior
to the B.C.E.’s completion.
will deliver what they are obligated to deliver."
said "FPL will say we are not changing out the rusty
transformers on our budget".
view of all the information provided, every Palm Beacher must
conclude: 1- Beyond the overrun fiasco, construction quicksand and
lack of contractor experience, there is no real control over
extended length of project timing and duration. 2- Palm Beach
property owners don’t know if the town, due to all the mishaps
and missteps, will run out of monies and create an additional
special assessment for property owners on top of the existing one.
3- Property owners need to be aware that assessment amounts can
increase by any chosen denominator.
that’s not enough, there’s more. There was matter of fact
discussion regarding property owners that default on their special
assessment payments with resulting foreclosures and the taking of
everything we’ve learned, isn’t it crystal clear by now that
if Town-wide conversion to underground utilities in Palm Beach
continues to go forward as planned, this will become the Town of
Palm Beach’s folly and the victims will be the property owners?
maybe, the Town Council and Officials, who want this project so
badly, will remove their blinders and heed the warning signs that
apparently even the prestigious Town of Palm Beach can not avoid.
soundest path to take is to HALT this massive town-wide debacle
before the legacy of the Town becomes its Town-wide Underground
Beach’s Path to Undergrounding Conversion Is Murky
of whether Palm Beach officials deny the obvious prophetic path
that they are taking that is frighteningly similar to the Town of
Gulf Stream’s debacle, it has created even more opposition,
angst and discord among Palm Beach property owners.
is a fact that a lawsuit was filed in Palm Beach County Circuit
Court, in early April, against the Town of Palm Beach on the
undergrounding referendum. The plaintiff, according to court
records, alleges that the ballot language was deliberately
misleading. The plaintiff is Arthur Goldmacher, a long time Palm
Beach resident who lives at 3250 S. Ocean Blvd. The lawsuit also
contends that residents believe that the town’s special
assessment plan would cause properties valued at less than $1M to
bear a heavier share of the debt than if the debt was repaid with
ad valorem property taxes. If this lawsuit should succeed, the
vote on the bond referendum and therefore the project will become
"illegal and void"!
April’s Palm Beach Town Council Meeting, resident, Charles
Hickman, an attorney, declared that at least half the Town is
against this project and there are three to four grounds for
justifiable lawsuits. It is therefore probable, that future
litigation on this issue will occur.
interviewed Susan Markin, former Palm Beach Town Council Member,
and current member and past Chairman of the Planning and Zoning
of Susan Markin’s concerns is "the Mayor and Town Council
Members literally sold this to the voters, when they should have
been neutral" and "Palm Beach should expect a rocky and
litigious road ahead".
Town Council and Mayor should have given all the facts, good and
bad, and prepared the residents for what the project entailed,
before they voted. They should have allowed for a straw ballot to
include all property owners since everyone, whether voter or not,
will be paying for 30 years plus on this project."
again, a devious approach to a referendum item will cause angst in
the Town of Palm Beach for years to come, not because it is a
North/South issue, because it is not, but because this project
will physically and economically destroy the trust in our Town’s
Markin says "The logistics of implementation have never been
discussed with residents before the vote and still till this
day." She stated that under the conditions that this vote was
passed "The residents have every right to be concerned and
those who voted for the under grounding did so totally blind as to
what to realistically expect. Power outrages, broken water and gas
lines due to digging, loss of vegetation in one’s yards, street
closings- all will occur. Palm Beach residents will feel that they
were misled and pushed into this project. Residents will have to
endure the years of construction and disruption….catastrophic!"
Markin is a major voice in the community and someone whom
residents come to with their issues and concerns. She contends
that "With almost 50% of the residents against the
undergrounding project, when things go awry as they will, Palm
Beach property owners will not be as flexible, tolerant, or
patient as other smaller towns that unlike Palm Beach had approved
their undergrounding utility project with a larger percentage of
said she’s not surprised at Gulf Stream’s conversion problems
to underground their utilities. She said that, "Long delays
due to lack of coordination with the various utility companies are
always a problem. Cost overruns are most usual for town
governments, Palm Beach included." As Ms. Markin describes,
these projects are "never accurately estimated with project
costs or future costs. The contractors and consultants take
advantage of that fact and once the project is committed to, the
reality is that there is no turning back. Therefore, the billing
is inflated and the taxpayers are the victims. In addition, the
towns get desperate to finish the project and they’ll pay
anything just to get the job done."
said that, "the problem for Palm Beach is their project is
huge in comparison to other towns. The cost overruns will be
astronomical, coordination efforts will be overwhelming for the
Towns’ staff, their contractors, and worst of all, the Town’s
residents will be living with outages, delays, construction and
unavoidable additional tax assessments when money runs out. This
will inevitably create a mess for longer than anyone might
imagine, with years of construction and special assessment tax
Markin told me that if homeowners had paid for the undergrounding
privately, they would have paid considerably less than doing it
with this town-wide assessment program the town has developed.
Markin explained that she personally is paying at least 5 times
more, in contrast to the price she had been quoted by a private
contractor to do her project on a neighbor by neighbor basis a
couple of years ago. Her explanation for this occurrence is that
with this Town-wide project property owners will not only be
paying for their own individual costs but also, in addition, they
are paying the debt service for the entire town. She explained to
me that individuals, under the current way the Town is proceding,
are paying a 100% mark up.
Markin is emphatic that "single family homeowners and
condo/co-op owners alike are still skeptical and concerned that
all the facts related to costs, implementation, end results and
time frames, (like advertised 6-10 years to complete construction
and 30 years of assessment payments), were not accurately
portrayed by the Town."
is significant that former Town Council Member Susan Markin summed
it up in this way: "It is a mistake for the Town Council to
want something no matter the cost to the taxpayers, the disruption
in the Town’s neighborhoods and the degrading of Palm Beach’s
quality of life. The most important thing for any Town Council
Member to remember is to not forget that they are supposed to
serve all the residents, not the other way around."
Beach Voters Discover Gulf Stream's Undergrounding Debacle
Town of Palm Beach Referendum bond vote on Undergrounding
Utilities just squeaked by. Approximately one-half of the voters,
49.3%, opposed this project. Latest Update: According to
Palm Beach County Civil Court records it has been confirmed that a
lawsuit has been filed against the Town of Palm Beach regarding
the bond referendum.
after the March 15th referendum vote, information was published
that directly challenges Palm Beach’s "Undergrounding
Success Stories" advertising campaign. Palm Beach had
repeatedly used the small municipality of Gulf Stream as a
successful "Poster Child" to encourage undergrounding
the utilities in the Town of Palm Beach. The facts regarding Gulf
Stream’s undergrounding utilities project, which is far from
finished, has turned out to be quite the opposite of what the Town
of Palm Beach led voters to believe.
article in The Coastal Star newspaper, entitled: "Gulf
Stream More Delays, Higher costs for Town’s Underground
Utilities Project" (3/30/16), showed that there is a parallel
between the two Towns’ paths. In 2014 a similar article was
written. It’s now apparent that this horror story about a
community converting to undergrounding and their unbelievable
problems were kept from the voters by the Town of Palm Beach prior
to the election. At the 4/5/16 Town Undergrounding Task Force
Meeting, the topic was brushed past as if it is insignificant,
which is startling!
Stream Mayor, Steve Morgan, was very forthright during my
interview about the issues that they have encountered. The Mayor
raised the potential similarities that are likely on a much larger
scale when Palm Beach undertakes its own conversion.
Mayor of Gulf Stream describes the assortment of problematic
conditions in his municipality as "a sign of what will happen
in Palm Beach, too." His candor and concern is prophetic and
as the Coastal Star recently reported, "an ominous
sign to surrounding communities", such as a massive 45 mile
Palm Beach Undergrounding Project with far more complications and
problems on their horizon!
utilities in Gulf Stream has been riddled with major problems
which they have encountered, including continual delays. Their
proposed three year project dragged on and, according to Gulf
Stream officials the project’s completion will be more like six
years, double the original estimated time. They must continue to
deal with staggering cost increases. The work that was to have
cost $2.8M will now approach $4M. This will put the total cost of
undergrounding Gulf Stream’s utilities at about $6.5M.
their cost overruns, there are also problems with the assessments.
Confusion has resulted for those who have prepaid together with
bookkeeping complications. It is necessary to remember that Palm
Beach, which has over 8,500 properties to be assessed in its
undergrounding project, far exceeds the assessments of only
several hundred properties in Gulf Stream.
to Mayor Morgan, Gulf Stream has 2-3 miles of undergrounding
compared to the Town of Palm Beach, which has over 45 miles of
wires to bury! Palm Beach has advertised that its project will
take six to ten years to complete. If Gulf Stream’s 2-3 miles of
undergrounding is requiring almost six years, how can residents of
Palm Beach expect 45 miles of undergrounding to be done in the
same or slightly more time? Seems like an unrealistic expectation!
addition, Gulf Stream still has not completed phase one of its two
phase project. There are construction issues and problems with
FPL, AT&T and Comcast, "who do not work together",
according to town officials. This causes delays in taking the
factor which Gulf Stream’s Mayor explained is that, although (as
Palm Beach also plans to do) they hired engineers and contractors
to design and then implement the project, they had a major issue
dealing with FPL. Gulf Stream learned that FPL must review and
agree to every aspect of the plan and implementation. Also, the
Mayor said that "FPL does the actual drawings." This
process was extremely time consuming because FPL’s response time
Gulf Stream Mayor stands by his description of the construction
site as resembling "a Benghazi suburb"! These sites
remain in an unfinished state for long periods of time until FPL,
AT&T and Comcast work together, the poles are taken down and
everything is put back as it should be. The logical question is,
"Why would Palm Beach be any different?"
the similar pattern of delays, unfinished construction sites,
traffic congestion, escalating costs of the project over the
years, assessment issues that remain, problems from property
owners who do not want transformers or switch boxes on their
properties, missteps and mishaps, will create an even more
fragmented Town of Palm Beach than resulted from the split vote
the referendum left behind.
interesting comparison between the two municipalities is that Gulf
Stream had a "straw ballot." This means that all
property owners participated, not just registered voters. This is
in contrast to the Palm Beach situation in which only Florida
voters were allowed to participate in the bond referendum to
Morgan pointed out that, unlike Gulf Stream, "Palm Beach
doesn’t have a mandate for this from their people." He
said, in his community, they base their decisions on projects
using "consensus" from the entire community. The Mayor
mentioned that, without those same assurances, he felt it possible
that Palm Beach was more likely to encounter continual opposition
or challenges from their residents as they move forward with their
contrast, in the Town of Palm Beach, the Mayor and Town Council,
prior to the referendum, were asked several times at Council
Meetings to follow what other communities did and allow a
town-wide "straw ballot." Palm Beach officials refused!
Gulf Stream’s officials have acknowledged that at this point
they have no choice but to move forward, because the town is too
far into the project to turn back. Hopefully, Palm Beach officials
will change their path and move away from this town-wide
conversion project to prevent a parallel of this type of future
that seems inevitable for Palm Beach if they stay their course.
Beach’s Bond Referendum Squeaks By Leaving the Town Fragmented
Town of Palm Beach’s undergrounding referendum bond vote
squeaked by with a razor thin victory that left the Town totally
fragmented! The 65% of the South-End that voted "against
bonds" were joined by 42% in Midtown and the North-End,
constituting 49.3% of all voters.
Beach after this election now consists of voters and numerous
disenfranchised property owners that have intense feelings of
angst and are still actively opposed to the project.
the unrest is the fact that 2,000 provisional ballots in Palm
Beach County were "tossed."
have interviewed several Palm Beach voters who were all part of
the 49.3% of the town-wide opposition vote. They are a sample of
the reasons and issues that are still outstanding in the Town of
Palm Beach after the March 15th election. As you read, you will
clearly see that there is a similarity and common ground among the
voters in this Town on their views.
to why they believe that this referendum was so controversial and
why they opposed it: Susan Watts said, "The plan was ill
conceived." She thought that "it came across to (her)
and to many voters as a beautification project, not ultimately
worth the time, the cost nor the risk of massive dredging into our
high water table."
Winston said that she "didn’t believe asking all residents
of the town to assume responsibility for a $90M debt over a 30
year period for an issue which has been and can continue to be
dealt with on a neighborhood basis, was the right thing to
Cullen stated he "was initially appalled by the absence of
details (by the Town) and the incomplete picture of why this huge
expenditure was necessary." Patrick also has a problem with
"The method of paying for the project and the inherently
unequal formula for the assessments".
Callahan, said she "thinks it became controversial because of
sincere differences of opinion on the need for undergrounding and
whether or not it would be beneficial for Palm Beach
Davidow, chairman of Palm Beachers for Common Sense, the
grassroots PAC in opposition to the referendum, felt "People
came to understand that unlike any other project in the Town’s
history, every resident will be fiscally and physically impacted
by the results everyday for the remainder of their lives".
The construction/disruption is said to be a decade long and the
special assessment tax will go on for 30 years. Robert further
explained "Other projects like, beach nourishment, repairing
the main water lines, sewer lines, etc., at the end of the day,
some of those things are absolutely necessary for our safety and
well being. Most of them don’t directly impact that many people
materially as does this town-wide undergrounding of our utility
wires. People became emotionally and intellectually involved and
wanted the outcome to go their way."
Watts feels that "The close vote indicates there is not a
clear mandate to proceed as the project is currently proposed.
Plus, in my opinion (as a midtown resident), it was not a
North/South issue. Additionally, it concerns me that many property
owners did not have an opportunity to vote on the bond issue even
though they pay taxes and will pay additional taxes because of the
passage" of the undergrounding referendum. "For me, it
was less about the allocation of cost than the cost itself…. And
the disruption, a massive construction project such as this could
cause. Many unintended and unexpected consequences could arise. By
the time the 30 year bond is repaid, or perhaps before,
undergrounding and in fact all delivery of power via wires and
cables could likely be obsolete!"
Winston, as to whether the marginal win changed her feelings,
"My concerns about the finances and disruptions which affect
our life in Palm Beach remain the same." She is still
troubled by the 10 years of construction/disruption to complete
the project and said, "Palm Beach is my home and I will have
to deal with delays, additional costs, noise, etc., year
Cullen, said, "It means that if this should go forward, we
will be paying this bill until, we move or die." "So, I
will be passing this debt on to the next generation along with the
national debt, I find this unacceptable."
Davidow says that one of several major issues for those opposed to
this town-wide undergrounding project is "The Fairness or
wealth transfer issue. This is the first time that a town-wide
project is being paid for with special assessments that
necessitate the owners of the lowest assessed properties to
transfer substantial amounts of wealth, about $50M over 30 years,
to the owners of properties with the highest wealth values."
of where these Palm Beach residents live in town, there is a
commonality and kinship amongst them. Clearly, they have similar
views and issues that prove that the voting results fragmented the
town, not based on region but on whether residents supported the
referendum vs. opposed the referendum.
part 2 we will hear more from Palm Beach voters who had opposed
the referendum. We will learn what their views are on the issues
that we face and what they now think since its passage, what
insights they have and what they recommend to the Town moving
next time, stay safe and be well and stay tuned.
a Flood Prone Barrier Island Community Vote to Underground
Utilities? Know the
Part 1 of 3:
Town of Palm Beach is proposing through a referendum on a bond
issue on March 15, 2016, that they underground their utility wires
in a massive Town-wide, $152.4 Million ($90M plus $62.4M in
interest) 10 year long Undergrounding Utility Project. It will
be "…payable from Town’s full faith, credit, ad valorem
taxing power and non ad valorem special assessments…". This
Assessment (tax) will require payments each year for over 30
years. This is actually an increase in the taxes you pay every
year. It will be added to property tax bills for Town property
owners each year. However, unlike our property taxes, this Special
Assessment WILL NOT BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
the vote on this immensely important referendum takes place the
residents in Palm Beach, as well as our Condo News
readership, are entitled to know ALL the facts and implications of
converting from overhead wiring to undergrounding. These impacts
are important to all Town residents and property owners, whether
they vote or not. It is unfortunate that the Town Officials
rejected the recommendation by concerned residents to allow a
"straw ballot" for non voter property owners who are
equally impacted by the decision that Town voters will make on
March 15th. The facts, implications and revelations that you will
learn from this series will make everyone more aware of the
important details that need to be understood before they are voted
is interesting to note that the Town has paid a political
consultant $125,000, in taxpayer funds, to promote the passage of
this referendum. The consultant at a public meeting stated,
"We have … days to sell this thing."
this Undergrounding Referendum gets 51% favorable votes, this will
be the first Town wide Special Assessment within the Town of Palm
Beach. Many property owners find that fact alarming because it
will set a precedent that can lead to other Town-wide non tax
deductible assessments for other projects going forward.
proposed Town-wide Special Assessment is a rejection of pure Ad
Valorem taxation which has been the standard of the American
taxation system which began in 1812. Our property tax bills are
normally based on assessed property values. In Florida the
Homesteading benefit is an optional choice for every Florida
property owner. With this Special Assessment however, the
Homesteaders are deprived of their statutory benefits!!
Town’s Special Assessment methodology is based on a perception
of "benefits" that the Town claims will be calculated
based on the Aesthetics, Reliability and Safety benefits that each
property owner is believed to realize from the Town converting to
undergrounding the utility lines.
begin with some important facts about RELIABILITY. I’ll pose
questions that readers should answer after you have read the
following facts about Reliability issues. These facts have been
derived directly from FPL.
FPL states that "hardening" our overhead poles and
lines withstands 145 mph winds. "Our strengthened power
lines and poles have already performed better both during
storms and when skies are blue. Our experience with tropical
storms in the past few years shows that strengthened main power
lines are roughly half as likely to experience an outage during
severe weather. Under normal weather conditions, hardening a power
line reduces frequency of daily outages by up to 40%."
Palm Beach Island is a low lying barrier island and is in
the "Flood Plain", thereby making it Flood Prone.
It doesn’t take a hurricane to flood many areas on the island.
Sometimes a nor’easter or just a heavy rain storm will flood the
streets within the Town of Palm Beach. Also, the Intracoastal is
rising every year. It often floods the banks and the properties.
According to FPL, "While underground facilities are not as
susceptible to wind and debris-blown damage, they are MORE
susceptible to water intrusion and local FLOOD DAMAGE, which can
make repairs more time consuming and costly."
"UNDERGROUND INTERRUPTIONS…typically last longer due to
more complex repair requirements. Following …hurricanes, we’ve
found that areas that took the longest to repair were generally
those served by underground facilities still flooded days after
the storm passes. Damage and corrosion of underground
electrical systems often shows up days or even months later,
causing additional outages and inconvenience to customers."
what you have just read, is it worth paying a Non Tax Deductible
Special Assessment every year for over 30 years and endure 10
years of massive construction for a non-essential undergrounding
project that will cost a minimum of $152.4 Million?
this sound like a good investment?
Tuesday, March 15, 2016, Town voters will be asked to vote for or
against this Undergrounding Referendum. Knowing what you now know,
why wouldn’t you "VOTE AGAINST" the Bond Referendum?
Part 2 of 3:
by Maddy Greenberg
"hardened" poles and wires south of Lake Ave in
Palm Beach. Cement poles and coated wires that will
withstand 145mph winds, quick repairs, free of charge to
Town residents, no additional tax on property tax bills,
made to blend in with trees and not obstructive to the view.
Why spend $152.4M to get rid of them and pay up to a 10-15%
tax increase for new underground utility reliability flood
from the Florida Public Service Commission Undergrounding
transformer is underwater and the utility wires are
underground. Is this something that we want to have happen
to us on a "flood plain barrier island?
was discussed in Part 1 of this 3 part series, the Town of Palm
Beach is asking the voters to approve a referendum on March 15,
2016, to issue bonds that would pay to underground the Town’s
utility wires in a massive 10 year Town-wide Undergrounding
to one of the Town’s pamphlets, labeled "Information
Guide", "Longboat Key" is identified as a success
story. The following report is from the newspaper in Longboat Key,
Your Observer, entitled "Power Outage Sparks
Concern", dated 7-22-15, http://www.yourobserver.com/article/power-outage-sparks-concern,
"Altogether, 3,500 Longboat Key homes lost power that night
… some lost power for a few hours, while others were in the dark
for up to 10 hours." "The main culprit for those 10-hour
outages was an underground powerline … that fizzled out and
needed to be replaced …" "The outage was a firsthand
lesson for Long Boaters on one of the disadvantages of underground
article goes on to say, "... when a line goes out
underground, it takes longer to determine where the problem is
coming from, to dig up the problem and repair it."
addition, "...two above ground switch cabinets, which sit in
metal boxes above ground and transfer power … malfunctioned. One
of them smoked, prompting Longboat Key firefighters/ police to
spokesman Bill Orlove stated, "It takes time to dig up a new
wire and replace it". "It’s not the only con that
comes with burying the island’s power lines…"
is a similarity about Longboat Key and the proposed undergrounding
utility project that the Town of Palm Beach is promoting. They are
both barrier islands. Therefore, the major outage problems and
impacts that undergrounded Longboat Key had suffered can easily be
what the Town of Palm Beach would incur if the voters allow this
referendum to pass.
significant is the statement regarding barrier island Longboat Key’s
undergrounding problems, that "A severe weather event, such
as a hurricane, could leave the island without power for a longer
amount of time." "The island is susceptible to flooding
after a severe storm, and crews can’t restore power until water
recedes, so it delays the time it takes to restore power",
Orlove said, "Water and electricity don’t mix."
resident of Longboat Key said something quite applicable for Palm
Beachers, "For people who live here year-round in the summer
months, power outages that last this long are a real concern"…"The
cons of underground service are real." Which the resident
summed up with, "This may be wrong for this island."
Town of Palm Beach is on a "Flood Plain" barrier island.
Although the Town listed Longboat Key as a success, it appears
that if we follow in their footsteps, the outcome would be equally
sad and similar.
contrast to Undergrounding, Orlove also stated that, Overhead
"hardening efforts increase service reliability to critical
community facilities, identified through our collaboration with
local officials… These critical community facilities include
hospitals, police and fire stations and emergency communication
the claim by the Town of Palm Beach that undergrounding utilities
creates better reliability, is clearly taken out of context and
not accurate as it relates to our flood plain and flood prone
officials and staff have attempted to make statements of their own
in order to counter the reliability "Cons" or
"Disadvantages" from FPL, that tell us that "damage
and corrosion of underground electrical systems often show up days
or even months after, causing additional outages…". Town of
Palm Beach staff have defended their claims of reliability by
telling the electorate and putting it in writing that the cable
under the Intracoastal doesn’t get wet inside and corrode,
therefore neither would the undergrounded utility wires. That
statement by Town staff reflects a lack of electrical and
engineering expertise on this issue.
to Izak Teller, Palm Beach resident, President of 2600 Condominium
on South Ocean Blvd. and experienced electrical and construction
engineer by trade, who worked on Manhattan island with overhead
and underground utilities for many years; there is a very real
difference between the cable that runs across the floor of the
Intracoastal and underground utility wires. Mr. Teller explains
that, "The wire under the Intracoastal is continuous, without
connections or transformers. The wires laid underground for our
utilities have ‘taps’ at every four houses to connect to
transformers and the transformers are above ground. The
transformers have additional ‘taps’ to feed the four houses it
serves. These taps have to be made ‘accessible’… and they
are more difficult to seal. IT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SEAL ALL
THE ‘TAPS’ OR CONNECTIONS REQUIRED. EACH CONNECTION IS A
POTENTIAL AREA FOR WATER INFILTRATION. The lines under the
Intracoastal are by definition more resistant than those placed
underground for the utilities on our barrier island."
major problem with corrosion and damage to the wires due to our
flood prone barrier island and the power outage incident and
consequences on barrier island Longboat Key, should make all Palm
Beach voters’ common sense kick into gear. Common Sense tells us
that regardless of the cost, significant or not, all voters should
VOTE "AGAINST BONDS" and the Underground Utility Project
Referendum on March 15, 2016. It just doesn’t make sense to do
Part 3 of 3:
by Maddy Greenberg
would you like this new undergrounding equipment placed in
front of your property?
Why trade safe poles that are replaced for free for an
underground system and HIGHER TAXES for the next 30 years?
Town of Palm Beach is proposing a massive town-wide expenditure to
be financed by all the property owners for the purpose of
undergrounding utility wires. This town-wide project will go before
the voters as a bond referendum on March 15th in order to finance a
$152.4 Million ($90M plus another $62.4M in interest).
this referendum succeeds, there will be a 10 year long construction
and disruption within the Town, where the roads and parts of
properties will be torn up. I heard testimony at a town meeting
which indicated that there will be interruption of service,
installation delays over problems that come from unexpected causes
and power outages during the construction phase. Endless
construction will become a way of life for a decade in the Town in
order to underground utilities so that those who don’t like
looking at overhead poles and wires will be satisfied.
doing this series, I reviewed the Florida Public Service Commission
Reports on Undergrounding as well as many other studies and reports;
including FPL’s website. I interviewed Florida Public Service
Commission, FEMA and FPL representatives. I learned a great deal
about the advantages and disadvantages of both overhead wiring and
undergrounding our utilities. Based on my research and the experts I
consulted there appears to conclusive evidence that there are too
many unknowns and disadvantages to favor a project that is so flawed
both in its presentation by the Town, the difficulty with a
conversion in an established community and, most of all, the
construction and implementation of undergrouding utility wires in a
flood plain, flood prone barrier island!
a voter myself, I can not in good conscience support this referendum
because of the many impacts it will create for the Town of Palm
Beach. Among them tax increases on our property tax bills of up to
20% and more. Without the ability to take a tax deduction on the
increase that would be levied upon us for a non essential luxury
item, it will be a hardship for many and an unnecessary increase for
those who pay enough taxes already.
addition, there will be many other major inconveniences that this
project will cause. There will be fights over which properties will
allow the placement of transformer boxes, their size and also the
larger switch boxes. Since there is no design or plan no one really
knows what size the equipment will be in front of either single
family homes or multi family condominiums.
our flood prone issues and the realities that we know about the
corrosion that takes place with the salt air and salt water
intrusion, plus the flood issues that we have suffered from
historically, which will only get worse with the rising seas. It
makes for a flawed undergrounding utilities project, which is, in
essence, like buying a pig in a poke with a blank check!
facts make Town-wide undergrounding of utility lines for so many
miles and thousands of property units a very different project than
other undergrounding projects that have been constructed in other
question I have repeatedly been asked is why? Why are we being
pushed so hard to do this? We know that the hardened poles and wires
that already exist in the Town are not the monstrosities that we are
seeing in the ads that the Town is showing! We also know that FPL
will, in fact, replace wooden poles with hardened poles free and as
part of the fees you already pay them! There are much more important
issues and matters that need our attention. According to FPL
Spokesperson Bill Orlove, "Hardening efforts increase service
reliability to critical community facilities, which are identified
though collaboration with local officials…"
Bill Orlove said, "Undergrounding power lines is NOT a ‘silver
bullet’." That same thing had been echoed by FPL Regional
Manager, Ethel Isaacs Williams and John Lehr, who came to speak
before the Town’s task force in October. They all acknowledged
that undergrounding utilities means power would be "susceptible
to flooding. The power outages in some areas may be on good days
less frequent, but the outages from undergrounding are much longer
Orlove said, "…in terms of overhead wiring, our strengthened
power lines and poles have already performed better both during
storms and when skies are blue. Our experience with tropical storms
in the past few years show that strengthened main power lines are
roughly half as likely to experience an outage during severe
weather. Under normal conditions, hardening a power line reduces
frequency of daily outages by up to 40%."
and common sense tells a reasonable individual that we have little
choice but to VOTE AGAINST BONDS in this undergrounding referendum.
It is just not good, sound business to blindly buy an item and hope
for the best! We need to get to the polls and VOTE AGAINST THE BONDS
ON MARCH 15th!
Their Strength and The History of These Storms Should Jolt Us Into
a 10-part series ~
other night we had a booming thunder storm that went on for
several hours. It sounded quite close to my apartment. The winds
picked up and the rain came down quite heavily. At around
midnight, for a few short minutes we lost power. All of this made
me think about the fact that we are in hurricane season and
although it is ten years this October since Hurricane Wilma, we
should always be vigilant about the possibilities of being hit
head on by a hurricane.
couple of years ago, Tropical Storm Sandy was 250 miles offshore
here in Palm Beach County, yet that one Tropical Storm which was
so far away did its share of damage.
not forget the dangers of hurricanes and remind ourselves that we
should be prepared during this season, whether by purchasing
supplies or promoting shoreline protection, such as beach
nourishment projects designed to protect ourselves from at least a
Category 2 hurricane.
me give you a better idea as to what these "categories"
mean to us laymen. There is a Wind Scale for hurricanes that goes
from one to five. Category 1: have sustained winds of 74 up to 95
mph. Sometimes a Cat 1 storm is even more dangerous than a 4 or 5
storm, because if the storm stays in the area and moves very
slowly, which is not likely with a Cat 4 or 5, it creates more
damage. A Category 2 hurricane: has sustained winds of 96 up to
110 mph. This is considered a dangerous storm because of the winds
causing more damage. Category 3: have sustained winds of 111 up to
129 mph. This level of a hurricane can cause devastating damage
and loss of life. Category 4 which has winds that sustain at 130
to 156 mph is considered catastrophic in its magnitude. God forbid
we are ever hit by a CAT 5 hurricane, with winds of 157 mph and
higher, it will be a major catastrophe that despite shutters,
hurricane glass and beach nourishment, the upland properties and
those of us living in its path, will be devastated. The wind scale
I describe is from the National Hurricane Center.
from the strong winds, there is the damage that is caused by
flooding in many of our low lying flood areas, plus the horrendous
impacts of the wave action which will cause destruction to any
shoreline that is unprotected, and cause a loss of property and
create an unsafe situation resulting in millions of dollars of
damage. As I recall since I was in my condo with my sweet parents
during Hurricane Wilma besides everything else during the
hurricane it sprouted tornadoes as well. Any of these storms can
cause multi billions of dollars in damage to the infrastructure we
have along the coastline and it will also do damage inland as we
saw in other hurricane of the past.
is most definitely a scary possibility and so we have to advocate
for better shoreline protection projects so that a mere Tropical
Storm does not cause unnecessary harm and we have the right to
expect shoreline protection from a the very least up to a CAT 3
hurricane. For inland properties and infrastructure, better
building codes, shutters and impact glass is something we need to
make sure is taken care of.
issue I will talk a bit more about some of our historical
hurricanes and what we should have learned since then.
last major hurricane to hit Palm Beach County, had no name, but
this storm which hit the County back in 1949 hit the Town of Palm
Beach in the south end, just north of what is now the Four
Seasons. The storm made landfall on August 28th. In those days
storms were not given names. Ironically, that began the following
year. The storm was upgraded last year to a Category 4 hurricane
by the Atlantic Hurricane Database.
then, there wasn’t that much of a population here in Palm Beach
County, like we have today. If that storm hit us now, just on Palm
Beach Island alone, it would cause many billions of dollars in
damage with all the infrastructure along and adjacent to the
coastline, which includes condos, homes, stores, the many
buildings so close to the shoreline.
doesn’t include the life and safety issues that would greatly
endanger our populace. Isn’t that scary? I think it is actually
terrifying. Especially, since we are greatly unprepared for such a
storm. Just the flood areas alone, let alone that our buildings
(our condos and homes) are not built or prepared to with stand
such high wind velocities, nor the hotels and motels we will take
pray, that doesn’t happen during any of our lifetimes. The loss
of life would be more tragic than the loss of property, in my
opinion. Especially because of the complacency that has become so
common among all of us. I must admit, that includes me. Ten years
is a long time and we forget or just choose to. I can’t even
imagine what could happen to those that do not evacuate in such a
storm, or choose poorly built structures to take shelter in. I
remember how impossible it was to get reservations in hotels or
motels at that time and how so many residents were trapped out on
the roads in traffic jams on I-95 or the turnpike.
1949 hurricane had sustained winds of 132 mph when it hit the
land. That made it a CAT 4 storm. It is said that according to an
anemometer reading from Palm Beach recorded gusts were up to
155mph. Can you just imagine that and what the damage that would
do throughout Palm Beach County? North of Palm Beach up in Jupiter
and Stuart, the anemometer stopped after reaching 153 mph. The
storm battered Palm Beach island for two hours and wreaked havoc,
even in those days.
compare that to our most recent hurricanes, Frances, which hit on
September 5, 2004, and a few weeks later on September, 25th,
Hurricane Jeanne followed. This year is the 10th anniversary of
Hurricane Wilma, which hit in October of 2005.
to the National Weather Service, Frances’ winds were 64 mph in
Palm Beach County, with highest gusts of 91 mph. The peak gust was
measured at the Jupiter Inlet. Frances made landfall in Martin
County at Seawall’s Point. The eye of the storm did move into
northeastern Palm Beach County though.
Jeanne’s strongest official sustained wind was recorded at 60
mph at the Lake Worth Pier, with an unofficial peak gust that was
as high as 125 mph.
Wilma, our most recent hurricane to hit us in Florida, has been 10
those of us, like me, just think how much our lives have changed
since Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Unbelievable! I know where I was
in each of those storms. Who I was with and what I was doing. If
you were here in Florida, what were you doing and how has your
life changed since then?
about it and we will continue this in our next issue. Until then,
be well, stay safe and make a prayer that we will have another
year free of those hurricanes and hopefully free of a Tropical
Storm, even one that hits 250 miles offshore.
our last issue I mentioned the unnamed 1949 Hurricane that hit
Palm Beach just north of the Four Seasons resort. That storm was
thus far the most powerful hurricane to hit Palm Beach. The
previous powerful hurricane to hit the island was in 1928. Some
argue that it was the worse storm to hit the island, because of
the damage it did. Luckily though for Palm Beach there were no
deaths, unlike the thousands that it killed in the Glades after
the dike south of Lake Okeechobee burst. Among the damage that the
1928 storm left in Palm Beach, it completely washed out entire
sections of A1A. It took 20 years before Palm Beach was hit by
second major storms, in 1947 and 1949, which apparently also
washed away other parts of A1A or South Ocean Boulevard.
Williams of Delray Beach, hosts a website called HurricaneCity.com.
Apparently Mr. Williams who put together various data on cities
along the East Coast and the Gulf coastline, claims that the Town
of Palm Beach gets hit or is affected by tropical storms or
hurricanes about every 2.07 years and hit directly with hurricane
winds once every 5.56 years.
it has been 10 years since Hurricane Wilma hit, so there must be
other things that affect hurricanes and where they come ashore.
They say that the water temperature being cooler and a weak El
Nino have an affect on things. As we all know, even a tropical
storm, 250 miles offshore can have a terrible impact on our
shoreline. Isn’t that what Tropical Storm Sandy taught us just a
few years ago? She damaged our coastline and reeked havoc as Super
Storm Sandy when she went up the coastline.
Hurricane Wilma impacted and struck Palm Beach, 54 years after the
August 26, 1949 hurricane, Wilma was a (borderline) CAT2, there
are some who say it was a CAT 1 storm. Either way, regardless of
which category Wilma was, just look at all the damage she did.
forbid we should get a 1949 type CAT 4 hurricane, then the
hurricanes of Frances, Jeanne and Wilma will look like a picnic
and we will find ourselves totally unprepared. Yes, we have better
building codes and even our insurance has been upgraded with
mandatory shutters in most condos and many people now have impact
hurricane glass windows and doors, but remember, our buildings
were built years before Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Therefore our
homes and condos may have the proper glass and shutters, but that
doesn’t mean we are protected from storm surge and just because
your home may be standing, doesn’t make it habitable. Think of
the damage that flooding can do.
am not attempting to scare anybody, just think about the fact that
the storms are coming from the ocean and the storm surges and the
impacts to our properties and homes comes from that direction,
therefore the condition of our shoreline is of utmost importance
to our survival.
times like these, the lake level rises and floods, but our major
issue and concern comes from the ocean side and without the proper
shoreline protection we are all in peril.
me tell you a story when I was in my condo years ago, with my two
sweet loving parents during Hurricanes Jeanne and later during
Wilma. My mom had fallen in a motel where we were staying when we
were evacuated during Frances. As a result, my dad refused to
leave during the next two hurricanes. You may recall that I was a
caregiver for my two elderly parents and I certainly would never
leave them alone to fend for themselves, so we stayed in our
during Wilma, the Town of Palm Beach did not call for an
evacuation until too close to the hurricane coming ashore and it
was in the middle of the night.
in 2000, I was one of the pioneers along South Ocean Boulevard who
had Hurricane glass and sliding doors installed in my unit. I do
not have hurricane shutters and therefore I observed the two
hurricanes while I stayed in my condo with my parents.
I experienced in my observations was quite frightening. I watched
the waves rise and the hurricane force wind driven rain and water
came over the dunes and flooded our pool deck and came into the
first floor in certain areas, which is on the pool deck level. My
apartment faces both the ocean and the Intracoastal. From the lake
side on the other side of A1A, I watched as the water rose and
came east, flooding the land on the west side and coming onto A1A
or South Ocean Boulevard. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad in those
storms from that side. Although, during the height of the storms,
I remember thinking that the ocean and the lake might meet and I
could see my hurricane windows were slightly bowed by the
hurricane force winds and the driven rain.
be prepared in the future, because even in quiet hurricane season
and periods of time, there is still the possibility of a major
storm or even a "Super Storm". We have to think about
the buffer that is imperative to protect us. That buffer and best
protection from Mother Nature, is our shoreline. What that means
is it is even more essential to renourish our beaches that over
these years have become critically eroded. The renourishment
projects must be done in a manner that are most effective for the
long term and help shield us against hurricanes. Without that, we
are going to be sitting ducks and that just isn’t acceptable,
because it can be prevented.
is more to come on this subject in our next issue. Until then, be
well and stay safe.
aerial photo taken from a 1940s postcard shows the Lake
Worth Casino in the center with A1A running the entire
distance north and south of the casino right along the
beach. The road in this area was later moved away from the
to the Hurricanes of the 1940s in Palm Beach, there were several
that came one year after another. The first came in 1945 on
September 15th and it had 130 mph winds. In 1947 a CAT 4 hurricane
came on September 17th with 155 mph winds and then in 1948 on
September 22nd another 85 mph hurricane came along. The 1949
hurricane came in August on the 26th and the eye passed directly
over Palm Beach with 150 mph winds. During those hurricanes, Lewis
Kapner was a young boy who lived with his family on Seaview Ave.
across the street from where the Palm Beach Day School is in the
Town of Palm Beach. His parents owned a grocery store in town.
& Lewis Kapner
photo by Maddy Greenberg
Kapner, along with his lovely wife Dawn, are now my neighbors at
my condominium in the south end of the Town of Palm Beach on South
Ocean Boulevard. But, in the 1940s, Lew lived with his parents in
midtown Palm Beach. He is a native Palm Beacher, who grew up in
the Town of Palm Beach and then later his family moved to the
north end of town. So, he knows exactly what it was like to live
through a series of hurricanes, pre-doppler radar, hurricane
planes, mass evacuations and air conditioning in the heat of the
summer in Palm Beach, Florida. Can’t imagine how difficult that
Lew remembers, back in the ‘40s he was not evacuated and stayed
on the barrier island for all the hurricanes. As a kid, Lew said
he did not realize the seriousness and life and safety issues that
come along with a hurricane. Especially, living on a barrier
island and instead he thought that flooded streets and downed
trees were rather fun to play in after the storm subsided. Lewis
said he remembered the high winds and heavy rain, but luckily his
family home did not get flooded or torn apart, which I am sure was
not true for everyone living in the Town of Palm Beach throughout
those series of storms. Considering the severity of those storms,
Lew and his family were rather lucky to have pulled through
unscathed. A good possibility which saved many lives and homes at
that time was the fact that the beaches in those areas of town
were not eroded and the beaches and dunes saved them from
a homegrown Palm Beacher and Floridian, Lew stayed in the area and
as an adult lived with his wife in his family home in the north
end of Palm Beach where the couple raised their children. Lew is a
retired Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County and
Mr. Kapner is currently an attorney with a practice in marriage
and family law, where his daughter, who is also a homegrown Palm
Beacher, practices law by her dad’s side.
even with modern technology and the pre-knowledge of a coming
storm in today’s world, in many ways we could be worse off if
those types of hurricanes battered us today.
you wonder? Those answers will come as this series continues.
on this series in our next issue, so stay tuned. Find out why in
many ways if we don’t get the proper beach nourishment on all of
those badly (critically) eroded beaches we are worse off today
here on South Ocean Boulevard if we had those same types of
importantly we will cover why beach nourishment is so important to
protect our lives and properties not only on the shoreline but
then, be well and stay safe.
all Condo News readers are aware, through my series on
"Hurricanes: Their Strength & the History of These Storms
& What It Should Mean to Us", I had mentioned that since
we have not had a hit by a hurricane since Wilma ten years ago, we
have become overly complacent. I wrote that although it was
predicted by the experts that this would be a quiet hurricane
season for us, that doesn’t mean that one big storm either
"brushing the coastline", "hitting us head on"
or even coming in the State from the west, can’t cause hardship
and or worse.
articles also talked about the prospect of flooding. Now as of
Friday, August 28th when I am writing this article, we are not
sure whether "Erika" will be a powerful Tropical Storm
or speed up and go back to a CAT 1 hurricane. According to the
weather experts and TV that have reported that Erika keeps
changing from hour to hour. As of yet no one knows exactly how or
if Erika is going to affect all of our homes and our lives.
this part 5 of my series we are going to take a short break from
the history of our hurricanes and what is necessary to take place
on our coastline areas that have been critically eroded; instead
we are going to talk about "Erika", which has put much
of Southeast Florida into a panic for several days now.
don’t recall until this particular storm, ever hearing about the
"cone of uncertainty". Which is layman’s terms means
to me that with all their fancy technological equipment, they
still don’t know where or if this storm will strike South east
Florida. Not too comforting. It appears to our good fortune at the
moment of my writing this article that the storm might weaken. Let
thing that this storm has proven to be so is that in the past 10
years, two things have taken place: 1- Many new people have moved
here to Florida and they are totally unaware and have no real idea
how to prepare for a hurricane. 2- Although there are many like me
that lived through the more recent hurricanes and tropical storms,
it has been a long time and we have become complacent. Both types
of folks are dangerous, because none of us really know when that
one storm that hits us head on and hangs out for any length of
time and causes some sort of devastation could take place.
need to stay vigilant and prepare and take the necessary measures
to prevent the onslaught of catastrophic erosion on beaches that
have been allowed to deteriorate, so that it doesn’t cause the
loss of infrastructure, homes, buildings and lives.
must also be prepared so that, flooding and wind damage doesn’t
cause cataclysmic conditions because the population having been
too complacent and ignoring the signs and the need to prepare
themselves and their properties.
hurricane can come along when we least expect it and when we are
unprepared. One such imperative measure to avoid catastrophe is to
develop and construct beach nourishment projects designed to take
the brunt of hurricanes, instead of what exists now in some areas
of the coastline where there is nothing to buffer the onslaught of
the wave energy caused by the hurricane which typically comes from
the ocean side.
thing to get ready for is preparing for the loss of power due to
high winds and the deluge of heavy duty rains.
of these possibilities exist and preventative measures need to
take place before tragedy becomes the outcome, some of it which
could have been avoided.
hope that when you read this article on Wednesday, Erika will be a
distant bump in the radar. Most importantly it is this writer’s
hope that people realize preventative measures to ensure life and
safety which are a must when you live in Southeast Florida.
series will continue, because there is a lot more to learn about
when it comes to hurricanes, their strength, the history of these
storms and what it should mean to us.
safe, stay well and pray that we avoid any hurricanes this season.
you live in Florida it is understandable, intelligent and
necessary to have concerns about the impacts of hurricanes on
safety, on homes and on surrounding areas. It is what we do to
resolve these valid concerns that really matters to be able to
maintain and protect our way of life and our future.
this series has progressed and we have learned about some of the
significant hurricanes and storms and how they can affect us, you
will, hopefully, come to the same conclusion as I have. In order
for that to take place you need to follow this series to its
you would like to catch up on any previous articles in my series,
go to http://www.condonewsonline.com/ Condos of S. Ocean Blvd.,
my series, you have read about some of the most significant
hurricanes to hit Palm Beach County and specifically Palm Beach
Island, starting with the unnamed storm in the 1920s and the
series of storms that hit in the mid to late 1940s.
have seen a photo of the south end of Palm Beach Island back in
the ‘20s and early ‘40s, when State Road A1A was located on
the ocean and had to be moved west to where it is today because of
the constant sand erosion from the hurricanes that kept damaging
it. You saw in that same photo, how large those beaches were,
prior to the critical erosion which has been allowed to exacerbate
due to neglect which has diminished those beaches over the years
to narrow eroded slivers that endanger the upland properties as
well as the inland properties behind them.
Part 5 of this series, I stopped my usual history and educational
direction to talk about "Erika" and how our complacency
regarding storms here is foolish. We may have dodged the bullet
this time and hopefully we will escape unscathed for yet another
hurricane season. However, that does not mean that there will not
come a time when our luck will run out and we will be hit by
hurricanes one year after another. We are talking about safety,
survival, environmental maintenance and proactive measures to
protect all of our investments in our coastal sunshine State.
are those who might say, "The beach has nothing to do with
me. Who cares about the beaches of Palm Beach or any beaches in
Palm Beach County?" I have heard people say, "Beaches
don’t protect us; we don’t live on the beach so that is the
problem for those living directly on the beach-front, not
ours." They are WRONG!! Everyone should care, because those
beaches and their condition have a definite impact on all of us
here in southeast Florida and also those beaches in Palm Beach
County where our readers live. Keep reading my series and learn
why you, too, should become an advocate of beach nourishment and
the appropriate measures to protect one of our most important
resources and investments as well as our safety.
is a known fact that heavily populated areas with coastal
development much like what we have here on the barrier island of
Palm Beach, without significant sand volume to create a sloped
beach with dunes, are at great risk of damage from hurricanes and
storms. When a barrier island has been completely developed, as we
have for example in the Town of Palm Beach, the entire island,
whether you think you live off the beach or not, from east to
west, from the north to south- are all affected by a hurricane
that comes ashore when there are still beaches on the island that
are critically eroded and have not gone through contiguous
adequate beach nourishment projects in order to protect and hold
back the wave action that comes ashore.
to the inland properties, when the island no longer serves to
protect those on the mainland west of them, they will be flooded
and have severe impacts as well.
to sources like The Journal of the American Shore and Beach
Preservation Association (ASBPA), which has been in existence
are driven by a strong desire to protect life and property.
Trillions of dollars in property, structures, (like condos,
co-ops, hotels, private homes and businesses), and infrastructure
overlook our nation’s shorelines."
beaches left alone, will continue to put people, as well as our
cultural, historic, economic and environmental resources at risk
for damages from hurricanes and coastal storms."
physical characteristics of the coastline, tides and other factors
can affect what happens when a storm makes landfall on an eroding
beach. While the width of the beach affects wave attack, the
elevation of the beach affects storm surge, which is a higher than
normal rise in sea level caused by high winds topped by waves.
Storm surge can inundate and destroy coastal areas (and barrier
islands). The higher the storm surge, the closer the water and
waves are to more people and property."
an eroding beach at a low elevation, even a modest storm surge can
cause significant damage."
would also like to thank Daniel Bates, Deputy Director of Palm
Beach County Board of County Commissioners Department of
Environmental Resource Management, Environmental Enhancement &
Restoration. Deputy Director Bates’s assistance with providing
me resources and information has and continues to be invaluable to
this series we have learned a great deal about our coastline, the
risks that we face because of the critical erosion of our
beachfront and the necessity of restoring it for our protection.
order to reverse the critical erosion of our beaches, adequate
amounts of appropriate quality sand must be placed on our beaches.
These beach nourishment projects must be accomplished to protect
the life and safety of the residents who live on barrier islands
and the mainland as well as the natural and irreplaceable
resources and financial investments contained within.
need to be proactive instead of reactive in protecting our
shoreline. Those of us who have lived in this locale of Florida
for over 10 years still have vivid memories of Hurricane Wilma! We
may have been fortunate in some of our situations because the
category and severity of Wilma could have been so much worse.
However, we still experienced great damage to our homes and
our barrier island shoreline should be a TOP Priority for the
State, Municipality and Town’s "Wants and Needs List".
Tax Money that is spent on inadequate and "quick fix"
beach nourishment projects is wasteful and totally ineffective!
Part 6 of my series, I explained that if you live anywhere on a
barrier island, you are endangered by poor maintenance of the
beaches of the coastline here in southeast Florida.
addition, those who live inland are negatively impacted if the
barrier islands, which nature created to protect the mainland, do
not have enough beach quality compatible sand placed through
properly designed beach nourishment projects onto the beaches as
the ultimate protection required for the various levels of
hurricanes and coastal storms.
my series winds down I will present additional information to
support why beach nourishment is a necessity for all local
Journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association,
(ASBPA) adequately states that, "Healthy beaches not only are
important to our quality of life, but also protect people and
property along the coasts from hurricanes and coastal
explicitly ASBPA says that, "A beach’s size, shape and
sand volume help determine how well the beach can protect
the developed area during a storm. All the various elements of a
beach, such as …..dunes….even the width and slope of the beach
itself, offer a level of natural protection against
hurricanes and coastal storms by absorbing and dissipating the
energy of breaking waves, either seaward or on the beach
to the sand moving downdrift — like man-made inlets, large
piers, groins with downdrift beaches that have never been
renourished — cause sand and sediment to be taken far off shore
where waves can not return it to the beach! The result is the
shoreline recedes or moves inward becoming more and more eroded
until it is left in a critical condition.
have concluded that these facts along with a combination of sea
level rise produce larger waves that break closer to land. An
example of the severity of this condition is in the south end of
the Town of Palm Beach. Some of the beaches in this area have
NEVER received beach nourishment. In addition, there are areas
that received inadequate nourishment. Erosion and shoreline
recession occurs as a result of inadequate beach nourishment. This
situation causes tremendous negative consequences for property,
investments, and life and safety conditions. Unless our local
Municipalities, the County or the State, along with our Federal
Government, take action before we are hit with hurricanes, our
shoreline and homes are vulnerable.
has been stated so perfectly in ASBPA Journal, "Measures
designed to protect our nation’s coasts and prevent and reduce
damages ultimately cost less than federal disaster assistance and
insurance payouts if overwhelming economic losses occur after a
question is, "WHY ARE THESE BEACH NOURISHMENT PROJECTS NOT
DONE PROPERLY SO AS TO AVOID A CATASTROPHE?" Instead of
wasting tax dollars on inadequate piecemeal projects,
responsibility must be taken to adequately protect with a
contiguously nourished coastline. Climate Change demands it! Beach
nourishment is a NECESSITY not a choice!
be continued. Be well and stay safe.
Part 7 of this series, I mentioned that I plan to present to you,
our readers, additional information to support my assertion that
contiguous, adequate beach nourishment projects are a necessity
for our local shoreline and for the safety and survival of the
residents and tourists as well as for the preservation of the
are living in a time of Climate Change. Beach nourishment on a
barrier island that has a critically eroded shoreline is a
NECESSITY, not a choice!
need to acknowledge that it is more cost effective, in the long
term, to conduct beach projects that use sand sources which are
compatible with the native beach sand! This sand will adhere to
the shoreline, accumulate faster and be less subject to erosion.
This also will enable a municipality to spend less on the back end
while maintaining the restoration of the beaches and also the
dunes that accompany them.
process would replace the spending of our tax dollars by
municipalities on inadequate piecemeal, "quick fix"
projects, which have been instituted to placate the public. These
are not only wasteful, but proved ineffective!
last week, Hurricane Joaquin passed by our area, but pretty far
offshore as it moved northward. Locally, along the ocean and
Intracoastal, there were areas on both the east shore and west
bank of the island, where the tides were high creating areas of
minor flooding and standing water. Some areas even experienced
beach erosion! The message here is that we need to realize that we
are totally vulnerable to a category storm or hurricane and the
negative impacts that follow. We need to consider the major
flooding and damage that has occurred in South Carolina from this
storm. We were lucky this time. Can we be so sure the next time?
Part 7 of this series, I described how barrier islands protect the
mainland. The Journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation
Association (ASBPA) says, "Rising water can inundate low
barrier islands, cut a new inlet and wash sediment inland."
This type of inlet is commonly referred to a "breach".
On the island of Palm Beach, residents should be aware that a
"breach" could occur at the narrowest parts of the
island, such as Sloan’s Curve or even south of the Lake Worth
Journal (ASBPA) also states that "Waves can attack the base
of a dune or create vertical cuts that erode the dune completely,
exposing people and property to potential damage. Waves can scour
sediment from around structures and pilings and strip bricks off
we are talking about the possibility of a "breach" or
water intrusion, the fact is as confirmed by the Journal of ASBPA,
that "Erosion can undermine slabs,
which can fail and damage homes. Even property farther inland is
at risk as shorelines (beaches) continue to recede and dunes
collapse, since the storm surge’s fast moving water can rapidly
inundate and destroy structures behind the beach."
proof that this is not just theoretical rhetoric was cited
graphically in the ASBPA Journal, that, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan
caused the shoreline on both the Alabama and Florida Panhandle
coasts to recede 40 feet and produced up to 165 feet of erosion in
some areas! The Journal then describes how dunes that were 30 feet
high were eroded to just 2 feet! "Ivan’s storm surge washed
over the low-lying barrier islands near Gulf Shores, Alabama,
transporting sediment and cutting a new inlet! SEVERAL MILES EAST,
WHERE BARRIER ISLANDS RODE HIGHER, DUNES ERODED, UNDERCUTTING AND
TOPPLING FIVE-STORY CONDOMINIUM BUILDINGS."!!
direct parallel is, according to all the flood maps, the barrier
island of Palm Beach that includes the entire Town of Palm Beach,
is a "low-lying barrier island"! This means that the
Town of Palm Beach, which manages its own shoreline, must
confront the reality that this scenario which took place in the
Panhandle can unfortunately occur right here! This can occur
because of the many existing critically eroded areas of Palm Beach
shoreline that have either never received beach nourishment or
been provided insufficient nourishment of the beaches.
prevent such a catastrophe before it is too late!
next time, be well and stay safe. More to come next time, so, stay
as the hurricane season is coming to a close, the largest
hurricane to hit the western hemisphere, Hurricane Patricia, made
land fall in Mexico. When it came ashore it had 165 mph winds and
was a CAT 5 storm. Fortunately, the mountain ranges Patricia
encountered caused it to break apart, becoming a tropical storm as
it headed towards Texas! With our flat terrain here, what would it
have been like if it hit southeast Florida? Ironically, this was
the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Wilma! Many of us recall that
Wilma was a mere CAT 1, although some say it was a borderline CAT
2 storm! As we all might remember, Wilma did great damage here in
to the Journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation
Association (ASBPA), "Beach Nourishment adds sand to the
coastal system, protects people and properties from the effects of
hurricanes and coastal storms by widening a beach and advancing
the shoreline seaward". The Journal says that "outside
sources" are used to "restore an eroding beach".
That could mean many things, including in some areas of shoreline,
the use of upland sand sources as Palm Beach County plans to use
in the Towns of South Palm Beach and Lantana. Let’s awaken the
Town of Palm Beach to use this source in some areas of their
the ASBPA Journal says that through nourishment, "a beach is
constructed where only a small beach or no beach existed.
Ultimately, beach nourishment widens a beach and advances the
shoreline seaward." "The wider, nourished beach which
slopes gently downward below the water and the taller sand dunes
protect the shore by acting as naturally protective buffers. The
gradual slope of the nourished beach causes waves to break in
shallow water as they begin to feel bottom. As water rushes up the
beach, wave energy dissipates." "To ensure that a
nourished beach continues to provide protection and mitigate the
effects of hurricanes and coastal storms, the project must be
supplemented with additional quantities of sand, called periodic
course, without ever making the attempt to adequately and
contiguously nourish these critically eroded beaches, our
officials are leaving not only the coastline, which is a huge
natural resource in Florida, but the population and tax payers
extremely vulnerable to harm.
Bates, Deputy Director of the Palm Beach County Dept. of
Environmental Resources Mgmt., Environmental Enhancement &
Restoration, told me that: "The more sand, the more
protection for buildings beyond." According to Bates,
"Dunes are a storehouse of sand providing the extra
protection to the beach." But, he says, "Dunes alone are
not enough!" He says, "The most efficient and effective
is a dune and a berm. "(Deputy Director Bates defined that
"a berm is the flat portion of the beach.")
would hope that the Town of Palm Beach, who does its own shore
protection outside of the auspices of Palm Beach County, would
realize that, a dune alone project in any stretch of critically
eroded shoreline, especially those that have never received any
beach nourishment, is totally ineffective and unacceptable for the
shoreline, the properties and resident’s investments against
hurricanes and coastal storms.
to the ASBPA Journal, "without beach nourishment, the
starting point for damage would be farther onshore: a nourished
beach, with sufficient sand volume and healthy dunes, absorbs the
storm’s energy, even during slow-moving storms and helps prevent
damage to structures and infrastructure."
nourishment projects can have multiple benefits. Besides
mitigating coastal erosion and protecting life and property,
through hurricane and storm damage reduction, beach nourishment
projects can provide environmental, recreational and aesthetic
benefits. For example, nourishing and widening an eroding beach
can 1- Protect threatened or endangered plants in the dune area;
2- Protect habitat behind the dunes or next to the beaches; 3-
Create or restore habitat lost through erosion, for sea turtles,
shorebirds and other beach organisms; and 3- Create new nesting
areas for endangered sea turtles and spawning grounds for other
species. Beach nourishment projects also can create and sustain
wider beaches for recreational activities … and protect
infrastructure enjoyed by tourists. Healthy beaches not only are
crucial to the nation’s travel and tourism industry, but also
can help revitalize local economies by increasing property values,
condominium rentals, retail sales and demand for services" in
the hotels, jobs, etc.
closing, according to the American Shore and Beach Preservation
Association Journal, "NOURISHING AN ERODED BEACH IN A HIGHLY
DEVELOPED AREA, ALLOWS NATURE TO TAKE ITS PROTECTIVE COURSE.
HOWEVER, IF WE DON’T TAKE CARE OF OUR NATION’S BEACHES, THEY
WILL LOSE THEIR NATURALLY PROTECTIVE FUNCTION, PUTTING PEOPLE
PROPERTY AND THE ENVIRONMENT AT GREAT RISK"!
are painfully aware through this series, that our shoreline is
indeed "highly developed" on these low lying barrier
islands and also on the mainland. Adequate and effective
contiguous beach nourishment is essential and paramount in order
to protect life, safety and our economy.
to the fact that this series has been detailed and covered several
critical points, it will close summarizing and reviewing things to
tie this imperative subject up for you, our Condo News
readers. Until then, be well and stay safe.
Part 10 CONCLUSION.
journalist was stunned and outraged when I read that this week the
Town Council of Palm Beach will consider their Town staff’s
"bare bones" shore protection option to save monies at
the expense of those that have never received beach nourishment
for their critically eroded beaches!
areas such as the south end of the Town of Palm Beach, where the
beaches have been designated by the State of Florida as
"Critically Eroded", it is essential to provide adequate
beach nourishment using quality sand sources that match the native
beach sand! This is a situation which exists in areas along the
south end shoreline that is a life and safety issue as well as an
environmental one, which requires a beach nourishment project that
will be engineered and constructed properly and periodically
renourished. It is neither prudent nor long term cost effective to
consider a "bare bones" shore protection option in an
area that has been designated "critically eroded" and
has never been nourished!
is hoped that the Town officials will have the wisdom and the
courage to recognize that there are no short cuts in shore
protection. The solution lies in finding better, more sound
coastal engineering options that are proven to prevent erosion
and, most importantly, protect the upland properties. This option
of adequate beach nourishment will be more cost effective in the
addition, at the narrowest areas at the south end of the Town of
Palm Beach, as explained in Part 8 of this series, rising water
can inundate and cut new inlets or a "breach" because of
areas of shoreline that have never been nourished or have had
piecemeal or quick-fix ineffective projects.
that beach nourishment is the only sound and responsible answer to
protection is cited in the Journal of American Shore and Beach
Preservation Association (ASBPA): "During Hurricane Fran
in 1996, no structures were destroyed and no oceanfront
development endured significant damage at Wrightsville Beach,
N.C." the site of a nourishment project. However, the ASBPA
Journal also describes that in contrast, "On Topsail Island,
an unprotected area, the shoreline eroded and the dunes and
hundreds of structures were destroyed."
to the Journal, "beach nourishment projects work by allowing
the destructive forces of waves to strike the beach instead of the
structures and infrastructure behind the beach."
series has described the different levels of hurricanes and has
provided the documentation that supports the necessity for
properly designed adequate beach nourishment to protect Palm Beach
Island a low lying barrier island with thousands of residents,
their properties and infrastructure.
you have missed any parts of this MUST READ SERIES, with its
documentation of the need to support beach nourishment to prevent
storm damage, I urge you to go online at: Condos
of S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, FL
below by Madelyn Greenberg unless otherwise stated
Purple Bus Rides Around PBC and Honors Our Local War Heroes
Bus -- both sides
Mates’ family, l-r: Twin granddaughter Annmarie Morris,
granddaughter Mary Wooddruff, daughter Barbara Morris, Donald
Mates, daughter Carol Caneela, granddaughter (mom) Audra Smith,
adorable great granddaughter, Sunny Smith,
granddaughter Lucy Morris,
local war veterans, who are each recipients of a "Purple
Heart", live along South Ocean Boulevard. Donald Mates, Eric
Ahronheim and George Fisher are among the 24 veterans who have their
photos lining a purple Palm Tran Bus, that makes rounds in Palm
Beach County, to honor our Purple Heart recipients.
"Purple Bus" is dedicated to local Palm Beach County
veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart. The head shots that line
the outside of the bus as giant billboards, each represent different
branches of the military spanning from WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Desert
Storm, Afghanistan to Iraq. The bus does not list names of each
veteran, but rather their branch of service and what war/conflict
they fought in.
"Purple Bus" is advertising that there are many services
out there, with phone numbers which are listed and other info about
the County’s services in this regard.
is an important goal, because Palm Beach County still has veterans
who seem unaware of the various service afforded to them.
just so happens that three of these valiant heroes are neighbors of
mine on the Boulevard. Donald Mates lives at my condominium
association at 3360 S. Ocean Blvd.
is a World War II veteran who was in the battle of Iowa Jima, was
severely wounded and is not only lucky to be alive, but at 89 years
young. I can attest to the fact that he works out in our condo gym
six days a week for three hours a clip and puts me to shame in his
endurance and determination. That makes sense, because Don is a
Marine, who survived ungodly wounds and years of surgery and went on
to lead an active and successful life in business and politics.
Mates is the Commander of the Division of Human & Veteran
Services and the local Military Order of the Purple Heart. Mates is
enthusiastic about the "Purple Bus" and the reason it is
on the road. The bus is part of a public service announcement, but
this one is "on wheels". Palm Beach County is home to
almost 100,000 veterans that span from WWII, all the way to the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Out of those many vets, 222 of them were
awarded the Purple Heart.
Fisher who lives at the Claridges on South Ocean Boulevard, is often
featured in the Condo News articles about veterans and was
awarded the Purple Heart. George said that the "Purple Bus is
just a fabulous piece of work." He is pleased to have his face
on the side of the bus and told me with pride that the inscription
on the bus says, "This is Purple Heart Country." George
was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and, the branch of
service he was part of was the US Army, under George Patton. George
Fisher told me how he lost many of his comrades in the war and they
will continue to "march with him, but their footsteps make no
sounds." George says that those soldiers that he fought with
that never made it home, but "will always be with him".
is 90 years old and told me with pride that he has been married for
68 years. Like Mates, Fisher volunteers his time and leads groups of
veterans. All of these men share camaraderie with each other, which
only veterans can understand.
third S. Ocean Blvd. condoite that lives nearby at the Barclay, is
Eric Ahronheim. Eric served in the US Army infantry and was awarded
the Purple Heart after he was wounded at Luzon in the SW Pacific in
the Philippines during WWII. Eric as the others I’ve described was
18 years old when he went into battle. He is now 90 years old. At
one point Eric Ahronheim was like Donald Mates is now, the Commander
of the local Purple Heart chapter.
said that the Purple Bus "is great to advertise the Purple
Heart chapter and let veterans know they can get help. It brings it
to people’s attention and that is always a good thing".
Ahroneim is referring to the fact that the bus also shows that there
are services available and phone numbers to call.
Mates, George Fisher and Erick Ahronheim are all lucky that they
survived the war and lucky to still be kicking. It is my hope that
they are doing just as well seven to ten years from now. We have to
make sure as a nation not to forget all of our war heroes and the
"Purple Bus" is a way of saluting our veterans and showing
respect for the Purple Heart survivors.
Suggestions/Reminders for the Snowbirds Headed Out of Town- Part 1
those of us who reside in Florida know, at this time of the year
the snowbirds fly north. For those full-timers like me, that means
no long lines at the restaurants, and less traffic on the roads.
There are most definitely advantages, to having an easier time
making doctor’s appointments and avoiding the crowds. The down
side is that many businesses have a tough time keeping their heads
the snowbirds leave there are off-season layoffs. Most negative of
all, is the fact that we have to endure the stress of another
hurricane season. We have been extremely lucky for years, but lets
hope that our luck holds out for another year.
for our neighboring snowbirds, there is a need to make a plan for
leaving your condominium for the many months of our hot summer. It
is not as simple as closing the door, turning out the lights and
having no worries until you come back in October, November. There
are homes left vacant for up to six long hot months during
hurricane season. You have got to have as detailed a plan as those
of us evacuating or hunkering down during a foreboding hurricane.
have some suggestions that come from years of being a flake,
(snowflake that is), prior to my moving down here full time around
eighteen years ago. Plus, having been on the board of my
condominium, serving two years as president with the worst timing
of anyone, during those two years of infamy, Hurricanes Frances,
Jeanne & Wilma. I can honestly say that those homes that were
left vacant needed pre-planning and attention during not only
hurricanes, but just as much during the many months that homes are
I present to you our readers, are just suggestions not mandates.
The following information comes from personal experience from over
twenty eight years that I have been coming back and forth, first
as a snowflake, before becoming a full timer. I have found that
when leaving my apartment for months at a time, that whether you
have a humidistat on the wall that can be set so that the a/c goes
on if the humidity level reaches a certain point or not, the very
best thing to do, (though not as economical) is to keep your air
on all of the time. Run you’re a/c at least 78 degrees and keep
the fan on auto. When I used our humidistat, the apartment was hot
as can be, and mildew grew on some of our carpeting. Damp Rid
helps, but the best thing for your furniture, mirrors and such is
to keep the a/c running.
the water off with a cut-off valve. Unplug your hot water heater,
or shut it off, and do the same with its fuse in your fuse box.
Make sure to change you’re a/c filter and use a high performance
pleated one that can last for up to three months. Buy a few extras
and leave them close by your return. Purchase some of those
absorber noodles that we discussed during my hurricane series, and
put them in your interior sliding glass door tracks to suck up the
water that might come in from wind driven rain.
part 2, I will continue with some suggestions and reminders for
snowbirds that are on their way out of town.
safe and be well.
Rated Town of Palm Beach Fire Rescue Among the Country’s Finest
some of you may know already, the Town of Palm Beach’s essential
services are independent of Palm Beach County. Their Fire Rescue
and paramedics are employees of the Town of Palm Beach. Over the
years I have written many articles about the programs that they
have had, just like the Police Department, and the exemplary
services they provide for the residents of the Town.
during an evaluation by Insurance Services Office, a company that
provides underwriting and rating information for the insurance
industry, the Town of Palm Beach Fire Rescue received the elite
Class 1 status. The Town’s Fire Rescue were among the 102 fire
protection areas out of 48,000 surveyed in the country that
received the highest rating available.
to the Town of Palm Beach and the Fire Rescue.
a result of this public protection classification, it helps
establish appropriate fire insurance premiums for commercial,
industrial and residential properties. It also provides an
objective countrywide standard which assists fire departments
budget and plan for equipment, training and their facilities. The
fact the Town of Palm Beach scored 91.32 points out of 105.5
points during an insurance audit, is something to be extremely
advantage to property owners in the Town of Palm Beach is that
this rating will give them access to some of the lowest insurance
rates from fire-loss insurance because of the Town’s excellent
fire protection services.
new rating will take effect on August 1, 2015.
personally have a soft spot for the Fire Rescue, because my
wonderful Dad was a New York City Fireman in his younger days. As
you may recall if you have been reading my column over the years,
I used to avail myself of the services that the fire rescue
provides to Town residents. I called the non-emergency number so
many times over the years as a caregiver for my sweet parents, I
lost count. They always came swiftly and, besides their life
saving skills, these men and women always showed immense
compassion when continually helping to either lift my mom or dad
and when it became necessary and I called 911, they did an
exceptional job in their paramedic capacity.
may have been a minor detail to the fire fighters that answered my
calls, but in those non emergency responses, what I still find so
heart warming is the fact that the fire rescue paramedics always
remembered that my dad was "one of us." They always
stayed just a little bit long and spent time talking to him about
the old times for firemen like my dad. They listened to his
stories and showed him the utmost respect and treated him like a
firefighter brother and colleague. That was special to me and I
will always remember their kindness.
personal story demonstrates not only the professionalism of our
fire rescue employees, but also their commitment to provide the
highest level of service to our community and our residents. What
my personal story demonstrates is the fact that it is not just a
job for our Town’s essential services employees, like our fire
rescue. They really care about the residents of our Town. That
says a great deal to me about these men and women.
have always said, and over the years spoken before the Town
Council, that the Town of Palm Beach’s essential services set
the bar for all others and provide Town residents with a
"Platinum Standard" of services. I am proud to see that
with their newest top rating of the Town’s Fire Rescue, that I
have been proven right.
to remind you all, if you are a property owner or resident of the
Town of Palm Beach, don’t forget to let your insurance company
know about this newest top rating and see if you can take
advantage of a lower insurance rate for fire-loss because of the
Town’s exception fire protection rating.
next time, stay safe and be well.
Identity Theft E-mail Scam Making The Rounds
appears that everyday a new scam or attempt at identity theft
comes our way. Some come from phone calls that claim to be after
you for something you did not do properly with claimed criminal
consequences. Others come through e-mails. With e-mails there are
all different types of scams and also attempts to get you to click
on a link and release a computer virus that will do immense
seems that in today’s technologically advanced world, varying
identity theft crimes and scams are constantly perpetrated on the
hapless public. We have to be ever vigilant. Sometimes it makes us
overly suspicious. When it comes to e-mails, we become so negative
about these things, that we can delete an e-mail that might be
harmless. I believe though, although this overly suspicious
concern can make you delete some things unnecessarily, it is
better though to be safe than sorry, especially in this day and
ever I get an e-mail, especially ones without subjects and they
have a link included in the body of the e-mail itself, which
encourages the recipient to click on the link. The words within
the link don’t appear to make sense that the sender would send
this to the recipient. I am afraid to click on the link because I
might gum up my computer with a major destructive virus. So, I
just delete the e-mail altogether. One has to wonder how these
scammers get the contacts from the sender’s e-mail lists. That
is obviously where the identity theft and technological advanced
skill set by these hackers comes in.
other week I received something rather unusual from my neighbor,
Arlene Kutis on my e-mail. The subject title was a bit alarming
and when I opened the e-mail there was no link to click on, but
instead a letter was pasted into the body of the e-mail signed by
Arlene. I knew immediately it was a scam in order to get those on
her contact list to send money to supposedly help Arlene out of a
predicament while she was traveling in a foreign country. The
e-mail’s subject was: "Awful Trip!!!" But you see I
knew that Arlene was currently in her condo in Palm Beach, safe
and sound. So, obviously this letter was entirely false. The
following is a copy of the scam content.
am sorry for reaching you rather too late due to the situation of
things right now. I had a trip visiting to Philippines, everything
was going on fine until last night when I was attacked by some
unknown gunmen. All my money, phones and credit cards was stolen
away including some valuable items, It was a terrible experience
but the good thing is they didn’t hurt me or made away with my
reported the incident to the local authorities and the consulate
but their response was too casual, I was ask to come back in 2
weeks time for investigations to be made proper. But the truth is
I can’t wait till then as I have just got my return flight
booked and is leaving in few hours from now but presently having
problems sorting out the bills here and also getting a cab down to
the airport, Right now I’m financially strapped due to the
unexpected robbery attack, Wondering if you can help with a quick
loan to sort the bills and get back home. All I need is ($2,450.00
USD) or anything you can afford, I promise to refund you in full
as soon as I return hopefully tomorrow or next. write back now to
let me know what you can do. Thank you, Arlene.
I had recently seen and spoken with Arlene and knew she was not
traveling abroad. I wondered how the scammers got her e-mail
address as well as mine. When I was speaking with another
neighbor, he told me that he too received this same e-mail, as did
our condo office. I had no idea who received this bogus e-mail
from a couple of weeks ago. I had left a message on Arlene’s
machine warning her and forwarded the e-mail to her. First of all,
even the content seemed unlike Arlene, because she is an author
and a skilled writer, therefore it did not appear like anything
she would write. As you may recall, I interviewed Arlene Kurtis
some months back and wrote an article and review of her novel,
"Lila’s Hamsa." Although Arlene’s novel was a
riveting story about love and deception, I knew that this e-mail
was in no way written by the same person as who penned the novel.
It was a poorly written scam letter and something that someone
with Arlene’s fine character would never get involved in, even
if she were, God forbid, in that type of predicament.
recent conversation with Arlene this past weekend, she told me
that she never received so many calls from people that she had not
heard from in years, even distant relatives who contacted her when
they received this e-mail and called to check if Arlene was okay.
Arlene’s son got the same scam from his mom and of course knew
right away his mother would never sign her name to him like that,
aside from anything else. Arlene told me that for weeks she has
been receiving calls from neighbors, friends, relatives and
acquaintances, which apparently were in her e-mail contact list.
Still wonder, how do the scanners hack into that information, when
we have passwords and protection on our computers?
Kurtis told me that ironically the other week she received a phone
call from some one in broken English who claimed to be with the
Internal Revenue Service and told her that they had been trying to
reach her for months and if she doesn’t respond then the Sheriff’s
Department is going to arrest her. It appears that in a short
time, Arlene Kurtis was part of a second scam. This double scam
experience shows how often anyone of us can be scammed in a short
period of time. Some time ago I had written an article about this
exact same type of scam which happened to me as well as a friend
or two of mine. I venture to guess that this IRS telephone call
scam must be paying off for the crooks, if they are doing the
identical scam that I experienced over a year ago.
point being, we must stay ever watchful, even suspicious and, be
wary that we can be scammed at any time and in many different
ways. It can make one a bit neurotic about giving personal
information out on the Internet.
next time, be well, stay safe and be careful not to get scammed.
Story of Survival And Jewish Refugees In Shanghai, China
couple of years ago I went on a trip to China. Among the
interesting sites, one of the special places that I arranged to
visit, was a former Jewish community that became a ghetto. 18,000
refugees who found a safe haven and a home in Shanghai, China
during WWII. The refugees escaped the Nazi’s and they came from
Eastern and Western Europe, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and
the area is still there, all of the Jewish families that lived
there for years, have all left and moved on. I went for a tour and
there was a chapel where the refugees worshiped freely. There is a
museum run by the Chinese and my tour guide told me in broken
English all sorts of information about those times. The older
Chinese tour guide who led me through the area and museum showed
reverence for the former community and artifacts, clothing and the
religion he does not follow. I found this tour where Holocaust
refugees found safety, an exceptional part of my trip.
stories of these refugees and their survival during a terrible
time in the history of the world and the realization that the Far
East in China, treated those that could not easily find a safe
haven, with respect, is a story that I believe regardless of your
religion should be extremely riveting to hear about.
coming Saturday morning, April 18th, Helen Bix, who at 4 years of
age living in Celle, Germany, escaped with her family to Shanghai,
where she lived for the next ten years of her life. Helen will
speak about her experiences at Temple Emanu-El, Palm Beach, on
North County Rd. at about 10:30am.
speaker is presented as part of a Holocaust Remembrance Day event
during Sabbath services which begin at 9:15am.
Bix will tell her riveting story of all the difficult times and
how the refugees built themselves a community where hundreds of
thousands of Jews subdivided living quarters and bought bombed out
buildings and fixed them up, These refugees even built a day
school for their children under the auspices of the British
the refugees made themselves a community life, outside of their
self-made community, there was danger from crime and there was the
risk of catching a disease because epidemics were rampant. Yet,
these refugees found safety when they were able to escape the
Nazis, because they found that Shanghai was an open city.
Emanu-El welcomes those interested in hearing Bix’s story of her
experiences. Helen Bix is now 80 years old. Helen and her family
said that the Jewish ghetto life did not come until the Japanese
took over and all the stateless Jews had to move into a ghetto
area run by a less than pleasant Japanese administrator.
Helen says, the war years left an impact on those that were lucky
enough to survive those years. Helen will tell you that as a
result of her experiences she values every day that she is alive.
Mrs. Bix tries to do as much as she can for everyone. That is
quite astounding, considering what Helen has been through in her
more information if you are interested in attending and listening
to Helen’s story, call 832-0804 or e-mail Helen at email@example.com.
You will find her story riveting and this is something little
known and needs to be heard directly from the survivors before the
opportunity to speak with them first hand disappears.
to Door Solicitors Need Permits, ID Cards before Approaching
the Town of Palm Beach, door to door salespersons’ need
solicitation permits and a Town issued solicitation identification
ID cards with their photo on it in order to be legal. Apparently,
in Palm Beach there recently have been some problems with
unauthorized people trying to sell things without being
investigated properly and being approved and sanctioned by the
you encounter a solicitor and he can not provide a proper permit
and show you his Town of Palm Beach ID card, direct him to contact
the Code Enforcement Unit at Palm Beach Police Headquarters at 345
S. County Rd, where the individual can apply for a permit.
my opinion, being approached on the street is far different than
someone knocking on your door. If a stranger knocks on your door
and you didn’t expect them, I would be careful before opening
the door. If you do open the door, it is best not to invite a
stranger into your home in this day and age. In addition, if you
have any doubts be polite and tell them that you are going to
check and get back to them, so please wait outside. At that point
just close the door and check with the police by calling the
Police non-emergency number at: 561-838-5454 if you live in the
Town of Palm Beach. All other municipalities have their own non
emergency police numbers where you can call and ask as to whether
these solicitors are legal. If you are alarmed by someone that
approaches you because you feel endangered in some way, just call
9-1-1 for an immediate response.
enough, just like with solicitation phone calls, there is actually
a "no solicitation list" for door to door salespeople
that you can register and then be placed on to hinder those types
of attempts to contact you. Your name will be on a list of those
that can not be solicited. If your address is on the list and
someone comes to the door anyway, they will be in violation of a
town ordinance. Then you should call the police or the Code
Enforcement section of the department and report it with all the
information you were able to get. I do know in the Town of Palm
Beach, they respond rather quickly to your call in order to catch
any illegal solicitors.
only exemption from being required to obtain a permit due to
federal laws is provided to religious organizations. If you are
approached by members of religious organizations at your
residence, it is entirely up to you as whether you make a donation
or not. You should not feel that you are obligated to give any
money to anyone for any reason; it is totally a personal decision.
In my opinion, it is important to see literature and it would be
safest to get an address and check out the religious organization
before sending a check by snail mail to them to assure that they
are legit. You can’t be too careful in this world today.
a Happy Passover and Easter holiday. Until next time say safe and
Revelations about the Costs of Sand
Coastal Engineer Karyn Erickson brought up startling information
at last Friday’s Town of Palm Beach Shore Board Meeting.
Erickson, who is President of Erickson Consulting Engineers, Inc.
explained at a public meeting that the Town of Palm Beach is
currently paying a premium price of $45 a cubic yard for fine grey/black
dredged sand. It is important to note that twice as much dredged
sand is required because of its finer texture.
to the latest information, the cost of coarse mined sand, which is
clean and consistent in texture and size, is less expensive than
the incompatible fine dredged sand. Palm Beach County is paying
$28 a cubic yard for Stuart minded sand. Mined Ortona sand, which
is the most compatible to the Reach 8 beach’s native sand, cost
between $35-$40 a cubic yard.
Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, Inc.(SOS) Beach Nourishment Plan
which was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the
federal Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which is in draft form
during the public comment period, requires mined Ortona sand.
appointed Town Manager, Thomas G. Bradford is recommending to the
Town Council and their ad hoc committee, the Shore Board, that the
USACE consider the following items while finalizing the Reach 8
Bradford wants the Army Corps to complete the modeling of the
project with Ortona sand and structures proposed by the SOS. He
also wants to have the Town’s Preferred Projects performance
evaluated using upland grain sand sizes from both the Stuart and
Ortona sand mines. A comparison will then be made of the cost and
performance of those alternatives with the cost and performance of
the same project using the originally proposed fine dredged sand.
response to claims that this would delay the Reach 8 project,
Coastal Engineer Erickson said, "We’re not delaying it to
2017. The process is set right now for 2017. There’s not a
chance in the world you’ll get a permit in four to six months
from those agencies. This project will, under any circumstances
not be built in 2016."
Coalition to Save Our Shoreline (SOS) Puts Their Issues on the
Record with the Town of Palm Beach
by Andy Frame Photography
at 3400 in Reach 8.
and property collapsing
Renaissance in Reach 8.
of pool deck collapsing
severely eroded dunes.
Reef Condo in Reach 7.
Condo at Sloan's Curve. Seaweed shows water line
the base of the eroded dunes.
Town of Palm Beach, in a recent decision, determined that it was
necessary to add "Coastal Matters" to their regular
agenda items at monthly Town Council Meetings. The March 11, 2014
Meeting was the first Town Council Meeting to initiate this.
Council President Pro-Tem, William Diamond, presided over this
Town Council Meeting.
the "Coastal Matters" portion of the Agenda, President
Pro-Tem Diamond gave permission to a town, civilian based
organization, the Coalition to Save Our Shoreline (SOS) to make a
slide show presentation with photos of the critically eroded
shoreline in the southern part of the Town. The southern shoreline
parts of the Town of Palm Beach are designated as Reaches 7 and 8.
SOS Chairman, Richard G. Hunegs, introduced the thirteen photos
taken by independent professional photographer, Andy Frame, by
citing that "thousands of Palm Beach residents live in
condominium buildings that once were protected by wide beaches
which fortified the dunes and shielded the upland properties from
irreparable damage". Mr. Hunegs said that these photos
demonstrate the serious vulnerability of the shoreline as we
approach another hurricane season!
Pro-Tem Diamond and the Council Members proceeded to question the
Town Manager, Peter Elwell, regarding his explanation for this
situation and how the Town could best cooperate with the SOS which
had financed a beach nourishment plan. This SOS Plan, which is in
an area of shoreline called Reach 8, is currently being considered
along with the Town’s alternative as part of a federal
Environmental Impact Study.
photos revealed the serious erosion at Sloan’s Curve to the Town’s
boundary, which ends at La Bonne Vie. Reach 7 begins at Sloan’s
Curve and ends just north of the Lake Worth beach. Reach 8 begins
just south of the Lake Worth pier at Bellaria Condo and ends at
the Town’s boundary at La Bonne Vie.
SOS resident based group formally requested the Town Council, for
the first time, to make the SOS Plan the Town’s "Preferred
Alternative" in the Environmental Impact Study. The SOS Plan
would provide 25 year protection for upland properties as opposed
to the 15 year protection (the equivalent of one Tropical Storm),
afforded by the Town Plan.
The SOS also requested that the Town initiate and implement the
SOS Reach 7 Beach Restoration Project Alternative with Coastal
Structures developed by Coastal Engineer Erickson or the
alternative plan developed by Taylor Engineering, the Town’s
SOS statement to the Council Members also strongly objected to the
omission of funding in the Town’s $85M coastal plan for beach
nourishment in Reach 8 as well as for an Environmental Impact
Study and plan for beach nourishment with coastal structures in
northern Reach 7 at Sloan’s Curve.
Richard Hunegs said, after the Meeting, Town Council President
Pro-Tem William Diamond "made it clear that our positions are
in sync, that is, we all have the same goal to develop the best
possible plan and allocate the necessary resources to obtain the
was a long-awaited, productive and positive Town Council Meeting
for those residents whose properties are at risk and endangered by
severely eroded beaches. Let us stay tuned for results!
Flown Over US Capitol Building Commemorating USMC Anniversary Now
Flies in Palm Beach
and photos by Madelyn Greenberg
U. S. Flag flew over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC,
honoring the 238th anniversary of the founding of the U. S. Marine
Corps in 1775.
Donald Mates & Richard Hunegs.
Hunegs is president of the 3360 Condominium Association.
Condominium is proud that the American Flag that flies along South
Ocean Boulevard is no ordinary flag.
US Flag that flew over the Capital Building in Washington D.C.
honoring the two hundred and thirty eighth anniversary
commemorating the founding of the United States Marine Corps,
(1775), is now flying at 3360 S. Ocean Boulevard.
flag was presented to Donald A. Mates on November 10, 2013 and was
donated by Mr. Mates.
Mates was born on February 10, 1926 in Cleveland, OH. He committed
to the Marine Corps in high school and was inducted into service
upon graduation in June 1943.
combat on Iwo Jima, Mates served as a personal body guard for the
commanding general, 3rd Marine Division, General Graves Erskine.
While one night-time patrol on February 28, 1945 and March 1,
1945, Don Mates was wounded by hand grenades and a machine gun.
During the next 30 years he underwent a series of operations for
removal of shrapnel and riddance of leg braces.
Mates has been awarded the Purple Heart, Marine Combat Ribbon,
Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Medal, Pacific
Theatre of War, Victory Medal and Marine Corps League Recognition
is the Founder and Chairman of the Jimmy Trimble Scholarship Fund
dedicated to his friend and fellow Marine who was killed by a
Japanese soldier suicide bomber.
teaches at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, is a former
volunteer for the Town of Palm Beach Police Department in the
Crime Scene division. Don Mates is also the Treasurer for the
Military Order of the Purple Heart and a finance officer for his
2009, Donald Mates was awarded the Pentagon Combat Service Award
for valor during World War II.
Mates is a resident of 3360.
Representative Lois Frankel Talks About Beaches and Other Matters
Representative Lois Frankel (center) with Claire Levine (right),
2500 S. Ocean Blvd. & Maddy Greenberg (left), 3360 S. Ocean
Blvd., Palm Beach. Photo taken by the Congresswoman’s District
Director, Felicia Goldstein.
a community forum meeting at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Congresswoman
Lois Frankel spoke. She opened with telling the audience how
important beaches are and that she felt very strongly that
"beaches help to protect the shoreline." Frankel said
that beaches are "magnets for tourism." She also said
that "Nobody should say oh, it’s just about the
beaches." Frankel is clearly a proponent for beach
nourishment projects and as she has said before, "beaches are
the economic engine for the State of Florida and the different
municipalities that are upland of them."
Congresswoman explained to the audience that she serves on a very
important, bipartisan committee in Washington, the Transportation
Committee. She is also on a subcommittee that oversees the US Army
Corps of Engineers. Frankel explained that her committee "has
the ability to get things done." US Rep. Frankel said that
she and her subcommittee are "trying to streamline the
permitting process for beach nourishment projects."
was not said by Frankel at this meeting is that she walked the
beaches at the south end of the Town of Palm Beach last spring
with a Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, Inc. (SOS) board member.
When Frankel viewed the severe erosion of the beaches and dunes,
she said that she was pleased that she "got to see first hand
what she was fighting for." She also gave her word to the SOS
board member that she would keep her eye on the Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) study where the SOS Beach Nourishment Plan
and Design, developed by Coastal Engineer, Karyn Erickson, is a
plan being studied right alongside of the Town of Palm Beach’s
alternative. The EIS is a federal study under the direction of the
Corps of Engineers for Reach 8, south of the Lake Worth pier in
the Town of Palm Beach and South Palm Beach and Lantana under Palm
Beach County’s auspice. Frankel promised to assist with the
permitting process for the beach nourishment project that would
result from the EIS. Palm Beach County, Dept. of Environmental
Resources Mgmt., Deputy Director Dan Bates was also present on the
beach with Congresswoman Frankel and the SOS Board Member. At that
time, Frankel showed a keen interest in the SOS Beach Nourishment
the community forum last week, Frankel also spoke about the fact
that she served on the Foreign Affairs Committee and that although
she has traveled with her colleagues from the opposite end of the
spectrum in the "tea party", she said that they were all
"very collegial" although their political views were so
different. Frankel described that she discovered during her
travels to Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Brussels and other locals,
that people around the world actually had a favorable view of
America and see us as a "Superpower."
spoke candidly about the fact that she felt that tea party members
of Congress using the debt ceiling vote to defund the Affordable
Care Act, did not help America’s world wide reputation. Frankel
said that "the shutdown did not do us any good in terms of
our interests." The US Rep said that she felt that when you
go to other countries and try to tell them how to run their
governments, you lose "credibility when you can’t even keep
your own government open."
to the audience about the glitches in Obamacare and the fact that
over 300,000 Floridians had their policies cancelled by Blue
Cross/Blue Shield because the Affordable Care Act coverage
requirements would not be met. Ms. Frankel said that those
residents "need to buy policies that include the benefits
required by the act." This would include free wellness
Congresswoman said she felt that there is a "moral obligation
to provide health care to the millions of Americans now without
access." She explained that the act will prohibit insurers
from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions, among
other benefits. Frankel said that she felt that "If the
program isn’t working well after it is fully deployed,
legislators should get together and fix it." The US
Representative said she felt that first people need to give the
program a chance and then see what can be done to rectify any
spoke to her constituents in a relaxed and confident manner, yet
very friendly and accessible. She seemed unperturbed by the fact
that she was a Democrat speaking before an audience of
constituents that in the part of the Town of Palm Beach she spoke
in, were mostly Republicans. She made a point of speaking of how
well she works with Republicans and believes that much can be
accomplished with bipartisanship. Frankel even spoke about a bill
that she and a fellow Congressional Republican got passed by
journalist found Frankel’s candid and honest talk as well as her
serious intent to make strides to assist us in obtaining adequate
beach nourishment projects, a refreshing and welcome change from
those that preceded her.
on the Anniversary of Tropical/Super Storm Sandy
year around this time, Sandy blew some 250 miles offshore of the
east coast of Florida and left decimated dunes and added to the
already severe beach erosion in her wake. She worked her way up
the eastern seaboard and became Super Storm Sandy that caused so
much devastation and havoc on the northeastern coast.
most of the municipalities that suffered Sandy’s wrath, there
was a hard lesson that was learned about "vulnerability"
and the importance of righting situations on the shoreline in
order to better protect the beaches and the upland properties
most people hear that they are getting "sand" they think
that all the answers to their problems of
"vulnerability" are solved. I am here to tell you that
that just isn’t so. Sand is a part, an important part as it may
be, to the solution of protection from the advent of storm events
that can put life as we know it in jeopardy. It is not sand alone,
but how much and how it is placed on the shoreline that really
gives the protection that we all seek.
To scatter, dump or bulldoze an inadequate amount of sand onto
already severely eroded shoreline or on a scarped and collapsed
dune system, accomplishes little more than visual satisfaction for
the unknowing layman. Because, the protection needed by the
adequate number of cubic yards of sand per foot, is not being
provided. There are formulas for a properly designed beach and
dune system which must be adhered to if we want to get our money’s
worth out of our tax dollars. There are municipalities, especially
in the northeast, like New Jersey and New York, where we can read
in articles such as the NY Times, New Yorker, Wall Street
Journal and local New Jersey papers and magazines, reports
about their revelations of what must be done to protect their
shorelines and upland properties.
every municipality on the shoreline in Florida believes that
adequate sand supply designed for protection is a priority, has
yet to be seen. What can be clearly seen, are the scarped dunes
that have been neglected and one has to wonder whether adequate
amounts of sand will be placed strategically on the beaches and
dunes throughout the hardest hit areas, in order to best shield
the upland properties from harm.
were indeed very lucky this hurricane season. We were fortunately
spared any storms of "mother nature’s wrath." That
does not mean we are not "vulnerable." Will a
municipality like the Town of Palm Beach, place adequate amounts
of sand on the severely damaged dune systems during their
"Interim" Beach Nourishment project that will be
constructed on the south end this winter season? One can only
surmise that a responsible party would indeed and assuredly
accomplish that. Because, if we don’t, we are wasting everyone’s
time and tax dollars.
SOS Presents Graphics of the EIS "Alternatives"
ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEW
the August meeting of the Town Council of South Palm Beach, two of
the agenda items consisted of the important need for beaches which
safeguard the health of the towns in which they are located and
also their role in preserving the coastline of the State.
Mayor of the Town of Palm Beach and a board member of the
Coalition To Save Our Shoreline (SOS) were the guest speakers.
Town of Palm Beach Mayor spoke about the Florida Department of
Environment Protection (FDEP) Beach Management Agreement (BMA) and
told South Palm Beach Council members that the BMA will
"revolutionize" the process of permitting "from
north to south" and "from one project to another".
Mayor Coniglio also brought out a change in the Town of Palm Beach’s
plan. The Mayor said that the projects that will come out of the
current federal Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in Reaches 8, 9
and 10 will now both use "upland sand" sources, such as
Ortona sand for Reach 8 and the shoreline project, that will
constructed by Palm Beach County. This is a departure for the Town
of Palm Beach who up until recently refused "upland
sand" for their modified "Alternative" in Reach 8.
the SOS presentation that followed, mention was made that the
organization was pleased that the Town of Palm Beach had finally
agreed to use an "upland sand" source for their part of
the Reach 8 project. South Palm Beach Council Members were
informed that the SOS and their coastal engineer, Karyn Erickson,
had consistently recommended, for more than two years, that Palm
Beach needed to use "upland sand" because environmental
benefits as well as because it lasts longer. The Town of Palm
Beach had continued to reject it until just prior to the Army
Corps’ p;ublic meeting in August. The SOS Beach Nourishment Plan
for Reach 8, which is now an "Alternative" to be studied
in the EIS by the US Army Corps of Engineers was designed as a
large scale beach nourishment plan based on the use of
SOS is now confident that their "Alternative" will serve
everyone best because it would begin south of the Lake Worth pier
and stabilize a "contiguous beach the entire length of the
project and protect those living in Reach 8 while serving as a
feeder beach for their southern neighbors on the coastline".
The Council was told that this was the essence of what the BMA and
the Inlet to Inlet Pilot Project was created to accomplish.
SOS supplied graphic visuals which showed the three
"Alternatives" to be studied in the EIS process. It was
evident in the graph visual that the SOS "Alternative"
plan stretched the entire length of the beach and would merge into
the County "Alternative" that abuts Reach 8.
subsequent graphic showed the Town of Palm Beach’s
"Alternative" and the County "Alternative".
Palm Beach’s "Alternative" begins with a slim line of
dunes only. It contains beach fill at different levels that
partially front some upland property condos while fully fronting
others, totaling 4 to 5 condos. This leaves the major stretch of
shoreline in Reach 8 with dunes only.
was pointed out by the SOS that, in this scenario, the County
beach nourishment project adjoining Palm Beach’s current
"Alternative" would begin in the middle of nowhere and
would destabilize this entire coastline area. The graphic shows
that the County "Alternative" had illustrations of beach
fill with groins running the entire length of the Town of South
Palm Beach and Lantana to the former Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
SOS large scale beach nourishment "Alternative" plan had
carefully placed two groins in the southernmost section of Reach 8
to hold the sand in place, while allowing for littoral movement of
sand southward to South Palm Beach.
more details on all three "Alternatives", Google the
"USACE EIS Southern Palm Beach Island". You will find
under the Army Corps website both PDF links for the Town and
County "Alternative" slide presentation from the public
meeting and the Coalition To Save Our Shoreline Proposed
"Alternative" for Reach 8.
US Army Corps of Engineers Recognizes the SOS!
US Army Corps of Engineers conducted a public meeting on August
12, 2013 at the Town Hall in the Town of Palm Beach. The meeting
was advertised as a "scoping meeting" which would
provide opportunity for public comments regarding the long awaited
Environmental Impact Study (EIS). This study is essential to the
process of finding the best solution for the critically eroded
beaches in the Town of Palm Beach, south of the Lake Worth pier
and extending to the shorelines of South Palm Beach, Lantana and
the former Ritz Carlton Hotel in Manalapan.
beaches that will be included in this EIS cover a wide area of
shoreline that is managed, in part, by the Town of Palm Beach and
the remainder by Palm Beach County. In this situation, the Army
Corps of Engineers requires the Town of Palm Beach and Palm Beach
County to each submit its own "Alternative" plan for
beach nourishment, to be studied under the EIS.
the Army Corps of Engineers announced at the August 12th meeting
that the EIS will also be studying a third "Alternative"
plan. This third "Alternative" plan will be "The
Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, Inc. (SOS) Plan & Design for
Reach 8" in the Town of Palm Beach. It was submitted to the
Army Corps of Engineers by the SOS. The Army Corps of Engineers
announced, also, that the SOS Plan, designed by coastal engineer,
Karyn Erickson, P.E., D.CE, will be studied by the EIS and will
receive the same consideration and attention, as if it were
submitted by a municipality.
Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, Inc. (SOS) has indeed achieved a
high level of recognition and distinction for its efforts to seek
storm protection through beach nourishment for the thousands of
residents whose properties are at severe risk. The SOS is a
resident based, privately funded organization that financed a
large scale beach nourishment plan and design by a coastal
engineer that they had retained. The members of the organization
supported this beach nourishment plan even though they pay taxes
that funded the Town’s "Alternative."
EIS will now study two "Alternatives" for Reach 8 and
one "Alternative" for Reaches 9 & 10 offered for
study in the EIS and submitted by Palm Beach County.
to the SOS statement read at the EIS public meeting, the SOS
"respectfully submits" that their plan for Reach 8
"meets the standards and criteria that are necessary to
prevail." Also, the SOS statement maintains that their plan
is "feasible, responsible, affordable, balanced and effective
for the long term benefits for all. No other submitted proposals
or plans can be said to accomplish this nor do they constitute the
interests of everyone."
SOS brought out that "endangered sea turtles that come to
nest on our beaches and, because of the scarps and cliffs and the
continually diminishing beach, they lay their eggs and the tide
comes up and washes the eggs away or they lay under the water and
are destroyed. These sea turtles will continue to be lost to us if
man does not restore the wide beaches that sea turtles seek to lay
their eggs, nest, hatch their young and return to the sea."
SOS said, "they are confident that the Army Corps will find
the Beach Nourishment Plan which was designed by Ms. Erickson, to
be thoroughly researched, environmentally suitable and, most
importantly, permitable." They also told the Corps and the
public that their plan, "will stand on its own merit"
and "fulfill the need to correct severe erosion, satisfy
environmental concerns and be a prototype for other successful
beach nourishment and erosion control projects in the
of Palm Beach resident, Larry Goldberg, spoke during public
comments and stated that the Town of Palm Beach’s modified
"Alternative" would give beach fill for only several
upland properties and dunes for the majority of the length of
Reach 8, was totally inadequate and would not protect the
properties of the Town sufficiently, if at all. An SOS
spokesperson stated that their organization agrees with Mr.
Goldberg’s appraisal of the Town’s alternative that was
submitted for study by the EIS. It was also mentioned that the
SOS, since its inception, has maintained that the inadequate plans
that the Town has developed, constructed and now are proposing,
are a waste of their tax dollars and will not protect the
environment nor provide for the safety and protection of those
that are at risk.
Palm Beach resident, Pat Cooper suggested that the Army Corps also
look at the Lake Worth pier and its obstruction to sand flow.
to the SOS for their continual advocacy and proactive tenacity to
protect the thousands of property owners at risk. This EIS and the
three "Alternatives" that will be studied, is positive
and forward movement that hopefully "should result in a joint
project that will serve the needs of the public for now and also
for the future."
Long Awaited Study To Find Erosion Solutions For Palm Beach Island
long awaited federal EIS process for the "Southern Palm Beach
Island Comprehensive Shoreline Stabilization Project" will
begin at a "public meeting" on August 12th, at 5:30 pm,
at the Town Hall of the Town of Palm Beach. At this public
meeting, residents will have the opportunity to comment on the
scope of the EIS. The Environmental Impact Study, which will cover
the areas south of the Lake Worth pier, in Reach 8, in Palm Beach
through Reaches 9 & 10 in South Palm Beach, Lantana to the
former Ritz Carlton, Manalapan.
public notice for this meeting was recently sent by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers to the Condo Managers along the entire
coastline of Reaches 8, 9 & 10. This is welcome news for
thousands of residents that have been living in jeopardy, since
the EIS process could very well lead to a joint project between
the Town of Palm Beach and Palm Beach County. The Town of Palm
Beach manages their own coastal projects and funding, while the
Town of South Palm Beach, Lantana and Manalapan are under the
beach management of Palm Beach County.
upcoming public meeting and the federal EIS process will be
directed by Mr. Garett Lips, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project
Manager. At the Monday, August 12th 5:30 pm meeting, the public
will have the opportunity to listen and to make comments and
recommendations about the proposed study and what they believe it
should incorporate. There will also be information provided about
where the public can send their written comments.
of The Condo News will recall the eleven part series on
Beach Erosion and Condos in Peril. You may still catch up with the
series below on this page. The series
explained the severity of the erosion situation that has taken
place in the southern areas in the Town of Palm Beach, South Palm
Beach, Lantana and parts of Manalapan with photos that
demonstrated the seriousness of the beach erosion and dunes from
south of Sloan’s Curve in Palm Beach down to Manalapan.
the series it was stressed that for these areas of shoreline that
are critically eroded, the ultimate solutions will be derived
through a federal process, the Environmental Impact Study, which
is directed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. An
EIS is a description and analysis of all environmentally-related
aspects of a project. This EIS will review a range of alternatives
and actions such as beach nourishment projects that can take place
after the selection of options are studied thoroughly to determine
what will serve environmental concerns and the best interests of
of the dire needs of this entire stretch of critically eroded
beach, an organization comprised of concerned property owners in
the Town of Palm Beach, financed a beach nourishment plan. This
organization, the SOS, has requested that the Army Corps of
Engineers will study their plan as one of the alternatives which
they believe will best serve to protect the environment and to
protect the entire area of shoreline. The name of this plan is:
"The Coalition to Save Our Shoreline, Inc. (SOS) Beach
Nourishment Plan & Design for Reach 8". This large scale
beach nourishment plan was designed by Coastal Engineer, Karyn
Erickson, and will become an alternative that will be studied in
the EIS process.
Environmental Impact Study is extremely important. According to
FDEP Deputy Division Director, Danielle Irwin, "This process
will make it possible for Reach 7, Reach 8 and the southern
municipalities to get projects". Specifically, Fondren said
that "the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for Reach 8 and
Central Palm Beach (South Palm Beach, Lantana to Manalapan) will
help guide the future direction in the Beach Management Agreement
(BMA) with projects such as north of Phipps Ocean Park, at Sloan’s
Curve" in Reach 7. This EIS is therefore of great
significance to those who live at risk with critical erosion and
the fear of Mother Nature’s wrath striking and causing
irrevocable harm to them and their upland properties.
Erosion from T.S. Sandy Severe; Condos in Peril
damage up and down the south end strip of The Town of Palm Beach
on S. Ocean Blvd. from Sloan’s Curve south to the town’s
boundary. Some photos demonstrate the severity of Tropical Storm
Sandy’s beach and dune erosion and the imminent danger residents
are in without adequate shoreline beach nourishment and
are the Economic Engine for Florida
Rep. Lois Frankel with SOS Board Members Carla Herwitz of 2275 S.
Ocean (left) &
2778 S. Ocean. Blvd.,
3360 S. Ocean Blvd.
House Representative Lois Frankel (D-Fla) spoke with residents of
the Town of Palm Beach at a meeting hosted by the Harbour House on
South Ocean Blvd. The opportunity to meet and ask questions of our
Representative came about through Dr. Max Rosenbaum.
House President, Stewart Tabakin, introduced Rep. Frankel to an
audience about 100 people.
focal point of her discussion was the importance of the beaches in
Florida and their source of revenue. The economic engine in
Florida according to the Congresswoman is driven by the property
taxes from the residents, especially those properties along the
shoreline. Wide beaches and dunes attract people to live on the
shoreline and bring tourism to Florida. Frankel explained that the
property taxes from the coastline residents are a large revenue
apparatus as well as the tourism and hospitality. She said that
the monies derived from property taxes, tourism and hospitality in
communities along the coast fund the fire, police and school
departments throughout the State.
said that "these are the reasons why the beach issues, such
as erosion and the need for shoreline protection for upland
properties, are not just local issues." It affects all those
residing in the State of Florida, on the shore and inland.
asked if the Town of Palm Beach uses federal monies to restore its
beaches, Frankel said, that "The Town did not want federal
money to renourish the beaches." The Town of Palm Beach is
unique from the rest of Palm Beach County because they do their
own coastal management which did not include federal monies in the
funding of their projects.
Kurtis, resident at 3360 S. Ocean Blvd., expressed her concerns
and said that her local government has refused to restore the
severely eroded dunes for this upcoming hurricane season. Mrs.
Kurtis wanted Frankel to know about the seriousness of this
situation in the south end of the Town of Palm Beach.
Curran, a Coalition To Save Our Shoreline (SOS) board member and
resident of 2778 S. Ocean Blvd., described how the inlets cause
interruption to the natural flow of sand from north to south. She
described how the Army Corp of Engineers dredges the Lake Worth
Inlet and it dumps the sand 15 to 20 miles out to sea, instead of
placing it on the shoreline south of the inlet. This resulted in
the loss of sand showing in the severe erosion of our beaches.
Mrs. Curran asked for Rep. Frankel’s help in correcting this
situation to get the Army Corps to dump the sand at no cost on the
beaches in the Town of Palm Beach. Frankel said she appreciated
this information and it gave her weaponry to use.
Katz, Reef Condo on S. Ocean Blvd., said that there is a debate
over who should pay for protection of Condo/Co-op shoreline
properties in the Town of Palm Beach. He said the new notion by
the Town is that taxpayers should be "self sufficient"
and rely totally on seawalls for protection from the wrath of
Mother Nature and the ocean. Katz said sea walls cause erosion
issues. He stated that coastal structures, wide beaches and dunes
need to be considered before building giant seawalls to armor the
shoreline. Katz asserted that the upland properties and buildings
serve as protection for the properties behind them and therefore
designing environmentally suitable beach nourishment projects with
coastal structures, wide beaches and dunes in front of the
existing seawalls will serve to not only protect the beachfront
properties, but all those behind it.
writer asked Rep. Frankel for her assistance in areas of our
shoreline that have never had beach nourishment. These areas have
severe, critical erosion and as a result of these conditions, many
of the properties in those areas are in jeopardy. A Federal
Environmental Impact Study must be done before beach projects can
be permitted and constructed. Frankel asked what areas were
referred to that had not had beach nourishment, are being eroded
and were not proposed to get it without an EIS. She was told in
northern Reach 7, or Sloan’s Curve and Reach 8, south of the
Lake Worth Pier. Frankel said that she would do her best to help
us with the EIS process and our beach issues.
Congresswoman advised the audience of residents to "keep
pounding and pounding your officials about the beach issues."
She said "this issue is much too important and residents and
taxpayers should keep it at the forefront." An SOS board
member’s response to me was that they totally agree with
next time, be well and stay safe.
Town of P.B. officials, Coastal Engineers Speak with Residents
expressed their frustration regarding the serious erosion of the
beaches, jeopardizing their properties
shoreline Erosion and loss of dunes shown in photo taken on
3/10/13 looking toward the Lake Worth Pier. This photo was not
taken during a storm.
Coastal Engineer Karyn Erickson, President of Erickson Consulting
Engineers; Richard Hunegs, Chairman of the SOS & resident
& President of 3360 Condo on S. Ocean Blvd.; FDEP Deputy
Director Danielle Fondren Irwin, Beach Management
audience of residents at the SOS Public Service Meeting, (flowing
out to the hallways and standing room only)
March 21st Public Service Meeting sponsored by The Coalition To
Save Our Shoreline Inc. (SOS) was successful in bringing over 300
residents, standing room only to speak with State, Town officials
and Coastal Engineering expertise.
spontaneous response of the overflowing audience of residents to
the presentations led the meeting to a different level. The
residents expressed their bitter frustration and despair to the
long unresolved severe erosion conditions of the beaches and the
loss of their dunes, which they clearly felt put their homes and
safety in jeopardy. There were numerous rallying cries of
"What can be done NOW to protect our homes against this
summer’s storms?" and "How SOON can we have beach
nourishment and groins to protect our homes?"!!
momentum that this meeting took on was quite remarkable. For the
first time, residents had the opportunity to express their total
frustration and, most importantly, they demonstrated the pent up
anger which sent a powerful message to the Town of Palm Beach. The
State, whose Inlet to Inlet regional project is proposed to cover
these areas of shoreline, clearly heard the desperate need of the
residents to obtain large scale beach nourishment projects with
response to the residents frustration at their dire situation and
their dissatisfaction by the lack of action on a beach fix,
Richard Hunegs, Chairman of the SOS said, "This requires
political action because, as the Town of Palm Beach demonstrated
with the Flagler Bridge, to get things done at higher levels, you
have to take action now!"
SOS has declared that this is the time for taxpayers to sound a
rallying cry to save their properties and make a large impact on
the Town Council in The Town of Palm Beach. Mr. Hunegs believes
that shoreline erosion and the jeopardy that exists for the safety
of the residents and the protection of their properties is at the
"apex of all of the Town’s issues"!
Hunegs first called upon Town of Palm Beach Councilman Richard
Kleid, who told residents that if there was a storm threat there
would be sand bags on the way. The residents rejected Kleid’s
statement and were displeased with Mr. Kleid’s announcement that
the Town of Palm Beach could not restore the dunes or put sand on
the beaches during the current turtle season. SOS’s Coastal
Engineer Karyn Erickson, who was a presenter at this meeting,
responded to Councilman Kleid that during turtle season it is
possible to obtain an emergency extension until June 1st.
a result of the anger vented by the residents, Town of Palm Beach
Councilman William Diamond advised that "This meeting should
be transported to the next Town Council Meeting on April 9th and I
will place the SOS on the agenda."
transport the SOS’s Public Service Meeting’s momentum, the SOS
has prepared a Petition to be signed by each resident and
taxpayer. This Petition, which will be submitted to the Town of
Palm Beach Town Council, demands that the town act immediately to
restore the dunes in the south end of the town in order to protect
homes and properties from this summer’s storms and hurricanes.
This is an effort to address the emergency situation that exists.
The Petition also requests that the Town of Palm Beach apply for
the necessary permits to undertake beach nourishment projects for
those areas in the south end of the town that so desperately need
adequate, long-term shoreline protection.
appears that the SOS has immediately responded to the outcry of
the residents at the Public Service Meeting and is actively going
forward to have the Town of Palm Beach obtain the necessary
shoreline protection for their residents.
8: Benefits from the Palm Beach Island
Photo taken by Brian Lee for the SOS; shows the eroded beaches and
dunes south of the Lake Worth Pier at low tide in the Town of Palm
Beach. Much like their neighbors north of the pier, south of Sloan’s
Curve. South of Palm Beach, those municipalities have NO beaches
due to armoring of their shoreline.
l-r are the Palm Beach Hampton, the Palm Beacher and Bellaria
is necessary for all shoreline residents who live in the Town of
Palm Beach, Lake Worth, South Palm Beach, Lantana & Manalapan
to realize that they share a coastline from the Palm Beach Inlet
to the Boynton Beach Inlet. These communities became an island,
the Palm Beach Island, when the two inlets were created.
a result, the coastline of each of these towns becomes
interdependent on the other since sand flows past town boundaries
in a north to south direction, unless interrupted by obstacles.
to the critically eroded beaches on Palm Beach Island and in
recognition of the dependency of every town shoreline/beach within
Palm Beach Island, the State of Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP), under its Bureau of Beaches and
Coastal Systems, has established the Palm Beach Island Beach
Management Agreement (BMA) as their "Pilot Project".
accomplish the goals of this Palm Beach Island BMA "Pilot
Project", the State has outlined their plan for meeting the
needs of the shoreline of each of the communities involved. The
Agreement will improve the permitting process by monitoring sand
drift, ocean current, sea turtle nesting and near-shore
Agreement will impact 15.7 miles of shoreline from inlet to inlet.
Each community will be required to contribute to the cost of
monitoring in accordance with the percentage of shoreline that
their town occupies. According to the FDEP, "the BMA is
designed to be a cooperative effort among the municipalities
within the coastal cell, (from Palm Beach Inlet to Boynton Beach
Inlet) and the success of the BMA is dependent on the
participation of all the municipalities and implementation of the
cell-wide monitoring plans."
FDEP proposed this regional approach to shoreline protection in
March, 2012. A series of Stakeholder Meetings was held with
representatives of the Town of Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, Lake
Worth, Lantana, Manalapan, Palm Beach County, the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers.
a journalist, I attended each of the all day meetings which took
place from last spring to late fall of 2012. During the first two
Stakeholder Meetings, it appeared that the Palm Beach BMA
"Pilot Project" would consist of nothing more than to
streamline the permitting process for the renourishment of
shoreline areas where projects had already been done. However,
after the power point presentation by Coastal Engineer Karyn
Erickson, there was a shift in the direction of the BMA.
Erickson, the Coastal Engineer retained by The Coalition To Save
Our Shoreline (SOS) developed a large scale beach nourishment plan
and design with limited coastal structures south of Sloan’s
Curve in the Town of Palm Beach. This plan will also benefit the
coastline of communities that are south of the Town of Palm Beach.
the SOS/Erickson presentation, the FDEP BMA Meetings took on
another dimension. The original draft of the BMA would now include
"Proposed Activities" which are the new construction of
environmentally suitable beach restoration designs and plans for
critically eroded areas along the shoreline that, previously, did
not have projects and would now be a part of the beach management
draft. Deputy Director Danielle Fondren said that "as a
result of the SOS’s ‘bulldog tenacity’ the Department
decided to include ‘Proposed Activities’ which would, at a
later time, be added to the document under ‘Projects Listed’".
large scale beach nourishment plan such as the SOS/Erickson plan
with limited coastal structures, will not only give adequate
protection to the entire section of Reach 8, south of the Lake
Worth Pier, but it will provide sand to the system for their
southern neighboring municipalities.
G. Hunegs, Esq., Leader of the SOS has stated that "As
residents and taxpayers, we need to put emphasis on the need for
our municipalities on Palm Beach Island to fully cooperate with
the FDEP BMA ‘Pilot Project’. This is a one time opportunity
that we have at our doorsteps to protect the most important asset
that we have, our beaches. This is an investment in the value of
our properties. As Florida property owners, we all will be
affected by the outcome of this ‘Pilot Project’ being offered
to us by the FDEP".
stresses that "We now have a rare opportunity that the State
of Florida’s Beaches and Coastal Systems, under the leadership
of Deputy Director Danielle Fondren, has provided us. We, as
individuals and residents of municipalities on Palm Beach Island
must support the BMA in every way possible. We understand that
financial concerns are great but we must look at the long term.
Investing in our future and the protection of our beaches,
environment and upland properties is of the utmost importance and
will be cost effective in the long run".
must strongly urge our municipalities to become proactive
participants in the protection of our shoreline and upland
properties. As taxpayers, we must not tolerate the usual reactive
stance that puts all of us in jeopardy."
7: More Good News Regarding
taken by The Town of South Palm Beach Police Officer, Mark
McKirchy from the pool deck of Horizon’s East condominium with
Ocean Front Inn’s Tide’s Bar & Grill and the Tuscany
Condominium in the background demonstrates the CRITICALLY
ERODED SHORELINE and lack of beach in the Town of South Palm
Beach. Notice that the wave has receded in the forefront, but it
hits the seawalls. South Palm Beach, needs sand desperately from
the beaches north of them. They are in jeopardy, which is easily
seen here. No beach remains for South Palm Beach, unless their
northern neighboring municipality gets a large scale beach
nourishment, which will also feed those beaches to the south of
them. What is needed here is to work together to protect the
shoreline and the homes beyond it.
the January 22, 2013 South Palm Beach Town Council Meeting, the
Town Council, in a motion passed unanimously, publicly gave their
support to the Coalition To Save Our Shoreline (SOS) and their
efforts for beach nourishment.
Palm Beach Council Member Bonnie Fischer introduced this agenda
item and spoke about the goals that the SOS is pursuing to gain
adequate shoreline protection. These include, among other things,
the foresight and vision of the SOS to retain Coastal Engineer,
Karyn Erickson, President of Erickson Consulting Engineers, Inc.
to develop an environmentally sound full beach nourishment plan
combined with limited coastal structures, such as groins, that
will continue down the shoreline and benefit towns like South Palm
was a positive and lengthy discussion between the Town Council,
South Palm Beach residents and Richard Hunegs, Esq., who is the
Leader of the SOS. Conversation ensued regarding the common
interests of the Town of South Palm Beach and the residents who
live in the Town of Palm Beach, on the dire need for adequate
shoreline protection in these long neglected areas of Palm Beach
Island. The Town Council and the audience agreed with Mr. Hunegs,
who said that "due to the severe beach and dune erosion that
exists, the risk to our environment and to our condos is
Town Council and the audience all reacted positively to the SOS
for their "tenacity", as Councilwoman Fischer described
this "proactive" organization. Fischer spoke highly of
the SOS and Coastal Engineer, Erickson. Fischer said that she
"has looked at the SOS/Erickson plan and believes it is a
good one for Reach 8 and the Town of South Palm Beach". She
said that the plan is a "very viable plan" and that it
is "the only one that makes sense".
spent a great deal of time promoting and encouraging the Town
Council Members to become signatories on the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP) Beach Management Agreement (BMA)
for the pilot program that will extend from Palm Beach Inlet to
the Boynton Inlet along Palm Beach Island.
Member Stella Jordan said that she "fully supports the SOS
and the BMA and that South Palm Beach should get involved with the
BMA". Council Member Fischer whole heartedly agreed.
Councilwoman Jordan also said that she is "thankful for
everything the SOS has done and continues to do for all the
residents along Palm Beach Island".
second item of good news on adequate shoreline protection came
during an interview with FDEP Bureau of Beaches & Coastal
Systems, Beach Management Deputy Director Danielle Fondren.
Fondren said that the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection (FDEP), Beach Management, endorses "flexible
structures like beach nourishment" and "hard coastal
structures like groins". Fondren said that her Department is
in favor of combined projects and will permit coastal structures
like groins. She said, "Coastal structures such as groins are
an appropriate action". Fondren said that the best results
come when a plan "pinpoints coastal structures, like groins,
in areas where they are needed, like ‘hot spots’".
is exciting news for areas along the coastline that have not
previously had groins or hard coastal structures to hold the beach
sand on the shores. Groins are perpendicular coastal structures
that are meant to slow the loss of sand and the currents and would
still allow for movement southward in the littoral drift.
to FDEP, Beach Management Deputy Director Fondren, "The
Department wants to do what makes sense for the longevity of a
project". This is welcome news to the many severely eroded
areas on the south end of the Town of Palm Beach, the Town of
South Palm Beach, Lantana & Manalapan.
to come in Part 8 of this series. Stay tuned.
6: Beach Nourishment & The Light at the End of the Tunnel
photo taken by Brian Lee for the SOS, demonstrates how the
even at low tide in Reach 8 at the south end of the Town of Palm
Beach, (not too dissimilar from their neighbors to the north of
them in Reach 7), provide little or no protection for the upland
properties that lay beyond them. This photo shows 3200 Condo who
is representative of the major problem that currently exists;
where one decent storm could mean a catastrophe. South Palm Beach
and southward, have even less or no beaches due to their armored
shoreline. For the south end of Palm Beach Island, their only hope
is finally receiving the adequate shoreline protection through a
"large scale beach nourishment project" with limited
coastal structures to give it "longevity." This
journalist, hopes that the LIGHT at the End of the this Tunnel,
shines brightly and these proposed activities BECOME a BEACON of
light for Palm Beach Island.
there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those critically
eroded areas along the shoreline on the south end of Palm Beach
article will address "Who" is responsible for the
planning of such monumentally positive action. Also, in this
article, there will be a discussion of "How" adequate
shoreline protection for these long neglected beaches will be
achieved and finally, "What" produced the light at the
end of the tunnel?
the Leadership of Deputy Director Danielle Fondren, the State of
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and its
Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, Beach Management, will now
include a LARGE (environmentally suitable) beach nourishment
project at the south end of Palm Beach Island. Such a project has
never been entertained before. It will be included in the
Department’s adopted Statewide Strategic Beach Management Plan
strategy for proposed activities within the Agreement area.
to the "light at the end of the tunnel", Deputy Director
Fondren " attributes the extra attention, the new policy
concepts, the large scale beach nourishment plan concept in Reach
8 and the prospect of coastal structures like groins incorporated
into such a project, to the Coalition To Save Our Shoreline (SOS)".
During this interview, Fondren repeatedly praised the continual
efforts of the SOS as the instigation for this forward motion
and the FDEP’s participation in guiding the Town of Palm Beach
and Palm Beach County in initiating these "proposed
referred to the civic-minded advocacy group, SOS, as a
"bulldog" organization "that had and continues to
have the wisdom to retain Coastal Engineer, Karyn Erickson, to
develop a full scale Beach Nourishment Plan & Design for Reach
8," (which is environmentally suitable and has never been
developed before) "and a second coastal alternative for Reach
7, including the Sloan’s Curve area", which is critically
eroded as well. Deputy Director Fondren "welcomes Karyn
Erickson’s continual involvement in this process". She said
she "respects new ideas like those of Karyn Erickson"
and was "happy to provide a venue for the SOS to have Karyn
Erickson present the beach nourishment plan and alternative".
Fondren stressed that if not for the "advocacy and
persistence" and hands on "involvement of the SOS, none
of this extra attention to these areas of shoreline that had not
been previously nourished, would be happening".
is great news for areas such as those that have previously been
denied the proper nourishment and protection of their shoreline
and their homes in this State. According to SOS Leadership,
Richard Hunegs, Esq., "These areas of shoreline have been
sorely neglected by the Township and Palm Beach County for years
and it is time that they rectify this." An excerpt from the
BMA, "The completion of feasibility/design studies and
associated environmental impact statements for Reach 8 and Central
Palm Beach projects," will be "eligible for State
funding assistance in accordance with the Beach Management Funding
Assistance Program." The Beach Management Division of the
FDEP, besides sharing funding, will therefore become an active
"participant in the entire process;" as Robert Brantly,
FDEP, Beach Management, Coastal Engineer Program Administrator,
said to this journalist in an interview. Brantly said that this is
"something significant" having a "large scale
project tied to Central Palm Beach." Brantly said that, they
"are stepping forward for a project in Reach 8 through the
BMA process to develop a joint project."
to Deputy Director Danielle Fondren, this process will make it
possible for Reach 7, Reach 8 and the southern municipalities to
get projects. Specifically, Fondren said that " the
Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for Reach 8 and Central Palm
Beach (South Palm Beach, Lantana & Manalapan) will help guide
the future direction in the BMA with projects such as north of
Phipps Ocean Park, at Sloan’s Curve" in Reach 7. Finally,
through the Beach Management Agreement (BMA), a pilot project in
the State of Florida that extends from Palm Beach Inlet to Boynton
Inlet, light at the end of the tunnel is within our sights.
Hunegs, Leadership of the Coalition To Save Our Shoreline (SOS),
was proud and pleased by Fondren’s praise and the progress that
we have made. He said that the SOS will continue to retain Karyn
Erickson’s services so that she will actively be engaged in the
process and will make sure that her environmentally sensitive
plans and strategies are included in the final projects that are
constructed on Palm Beach Island.
important information is coming in Part 7 of this series. So stay
5: Historical Beach Data a Key to Protection
view of the south end beaches in the Town of Palm Beach taken at
low tide by photographer, Brian Lee. It shows the beaches in front
of the Meridian Condo at 3300 S. Ocean Blvd. going northward to
the Dorchester Condo. This photo is representative of all the
eroded and shallow beaches in the south end of the Town of Palm
Beach, even at low tide. The photo was taken from a helicopter for
the Coalition SOS by Mr. Lee.
beaches and sunshine in Florida have historically been what has
attracted people to visit and move to our state. The communities
& hotels that line the shoreline also serve as major revenue
and tax assets that make Florida and more specifically Palm Beach
County an attraction for so many people.
or not you live directly on the coast, most residents and visitors
enjoy the beaches. The beaches serve much more than just a
recreational function. The most significant function of the
beaches is, or should be, protection for the upland properties and
for the residents who live there and in the neighboring vicinity.
Richard Hunegs, Esq., who serves as the Leadership for The
Coalition to Save Our Shoreline (SOS), has consistently stressed,
"that we are a society that loves the seashore. The
preservation of our beaches must be the underlying rationale for
properly designed beach nourishment projects that are
environmentally sensitive while giving adequate protection for
upland properties. It is our job as taxpayers to assure that our
beaches, for which Florida is famous, are adequately nourished and
maintained to protect sea turtles, our homes and our
Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Deputy Director
Danielle H. Fondren and her staff are working on the Palm Beach
Island Beach Management Agreement (BMA) pilot project with Palm
Beach County and the municipalities between Lake Worth Inlet and
the Boynton Beach Inlet. Through this pilot project the Department
is coordinating its regulatory responsibilities with other state
and federal agencies, local municipalities, the county and the
public, "to streamline a program to protect the environment
and to provide net ecosystem benefits". According to Fondren,
"The BMA was initiated in part to address coastal erosion and
environmental resource protection on a regional basis. Palm Beach
Island has experienced critical erosion along more than 75% of its
purpose of this series has been to educate and enlighten residents
of Florida and to bring out issues and possible solutions to this
serious crisis that exists on our shorelines. The problem of
severe beach erosion on Palm Beach Island did not just appear
after Tropical Storm Sandy. Local municipalities and Palm Beach
County which are in charge of coastal management for these areas
along the shoreline have watched this situation worsen over time.
months back, Richard Hunegs on behalf of the SOS, in conversation
with Danielle Fondren, expressed his concern that the local Palm
Beach shoreline has become so eroded that not only will our
"friends from the sea" not be able to survive because of
no beach, but he feared for the residents and their upland
properties. He explained that this was "due to years of
neglect in certain areas of the shoreline, particularly the south
end of the Town of Palm Beach". Hunegs expressed that this
"has led to a situation where it will take far less than a
catastrophic storm to devastate and destroy."
December’s BMA Meeting, FDEP Deputy Director, Fondren presented
a "Historical Shoreline Policy" concept that would make
it possible according to her to "recapture shoreline" in
new beach nourishment projects using historical shoreline data.
The Historical Shoreline Policy concept was presented as an idea
of how the FDEP may balance the historical erosion with
environmental resource protection. This "recapture of the
shoreline" could benefit new beach nourishment project areas
on Palm Beach Island according to Ms. Fondren, "given some
areas have seen shoreline recession of more than 200 feet since
main benefit for any of the Beach Management Agreement
municipalities, (Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, Lantana &
Manalapan), may be in providing project engineers with flexibility
to design a project that would afford storm protection to upland
property. Any of the municipalities in the BMA may benefit from
Director Danielle Fondren also said that the FDEP Beach Management
Agreement’s goal "is to use the historical analysis to
improve our ability to manage coastal erosion and environmental
resources. The pilot BMA provides the FDEP the opportunity to
explore historical data and find a balance between the protection
of Florida’s beaches from erosion and the protection of
Hunegs Esq. serving as the Leadership for the Coalition to Save
Our Shoreline said the SOS highly endorses the adoption of the
Historical Shoreline Policy by the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection for Beach Management of our Beaches &
Coastal Systems as a NECESSITY especially for those areas that
have thus far been denied any real adequate beach nourishment
projects. Hunegs commends Danielle Fondren and her staff for this
innovative approach to balance and better protect our shoreline
and the residents of Florida. He also urges all the municipalities
that are involved in the BMA pilot project to give the FDEP and
Ms. Fondren their complete support to initiate this Historical
Shoreline Policy as soon as possible.
4: Seawall "Quick-Fix" —
Harm Than Good?
by Bonnie Fischer, SPB Councilwoman
by South Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Bonnie Fischer,
the waves in South Palm Beach pounding the seawalls.
is the beach?
Fischer, Town of South Palm Beach Councilwoman and resident,
describes how her seawall armored shoreline is under water because
the once deep luscious beaches of South Palm Beach are now so
dramatically eroded that the beach is under the ocean and there
isn’t any sand on which to put sand dunes up against the
seawalls! The waves lap against the seawalls and the beaches which
once were wide, no longer exist except for possibly a slim space
on which to walk at low tide. The seawalls that line the
beachfront properties of South Palm Beach have their own issues;
some are cracked while others are collapsing. The seawall at the
Imperial House, at the Town’s boundary, had to be shored up some
years ago because it proved woefully inadequate.
the south of Ms. Fischer’s municipality, the Ritz Carlton Hotel
in Manalapan/Lantana had serious problems when part of their
seawall collapsed. The private homes in Manalapan, which have
seawalls, suffered tremendous damage to their properties from the
storm, Sandy. Their seawalls did not protect their shorefronts
from the storm that was 200 miles offshore.
definition, seawalls cause loss of sand because they provide a
stationary object against which a retreating beach narrows and
eventually disappears. It is also believed that seawalls may
intensify certain wave action during storms that lead to beach
loss. Wave action is intensified by seawalls rather than
has been much controversy over the role of seawalls. Most coastal
engineers now agree that seawalls are destructive to the beaches.
Corps of Engineers and Fla. Dept. Environmental Protection Beach
Management Deputy Director, Danielle Fondren, both agree that
beach nourishment is the environmentally preferable alternative to
seawalls and as the method of choice in responding to beach
erosion. Also, planting vegetation with beach replenishment
nourishment instead of building seawalls has proven to be much
more successful in halting beach erosion. Nourishing/re-nourishing
beaches are a critical decision in this time of rising sea levels.
Once a nourished beach is in place, storm waves must fight the
sand absorption of the beach and dunes before they can reach the
the fate of sea turtles is a critical environmental issue, the
renourished beach provides for new nesting areas for the turtles.
Erosion, on the other hand, produces scarps or "cliffs"
that present serious problems for nesting sea turtles which can
not climb the scarps to lay their eggs.
is the belief of Richard Hunegs, Esq. who serves as the Leadership
for The Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, (SOS), that since we are
a society that loves the seashore, we need to be certain that our
beaches are receiving the best and most capable management
possible. Representing the SOS, Mr. Hunegs has been dogmatic about
his belief that in this time of rising sea levels, preservation of
our beaches for future generations should always be the underlying
rationale for properly designed beach nourishment projects that
will be environmentally sensitive while giving adequate protection
for upland properties that belong to the residents of this State.
of the concerns of Mr. Hunegs and the many residents that he
represents, the SOS retained and financed Coastal Engineer Karyn
Erickson to assist them in creating environmentally sensitive
beach nourishment projects with limited coastal structures so that
their town finally gives all areas that lie within it, the
adequate protection that they deserve and require.
seawalls of South Palm Beach have created a situation where the
full beach nourishment project that Erickson designed for the SOS
is needed to provide a feeder beach to give sand to their system.
The seawall "Quick Fix" has proven to cause more harm
3: Positive Progress on Beaches &
System, Thanks to FDEP
above two photos were taken by South Palm Beach Councilwoman,
Bonni Fischer. These photos, taken at the Imperial House, are
representative of the entire shoreline and the perilous conditions
that exist from Sloan’s Curve through La Bonnie Vie in Palm
Beach and continues through South Palm Beach, Lantana and
Manalapan. The properties with sea walls did not fair well, many
cracked, collapsed, had seepage under the walls, and the waves, in
some cases, went over towards the buildings. Sea walls are known
to erode the beaches until there is little or no beach left. The
entire strip of beaches with or without sea walls is in dire
purpose of this series has been to inform and enlighten local
Florida residents of the important issues concerning our
shoreline. This series continues to explain why things have gotten
to this dangerous level; whose responsibility it is for protecting
our coastline and the possible solutions for this major crisis.
a recent Beach Management Meeting held by the Florida Department
of Environmental Protection, (FDEP), three important announcements
were made that are a giant step toward adequate shoreline
protection for our homes. Under the leadership of Danielle H.
Fondren, Deputy Director of Beach Management at the FDEP,
significant strides have been made. These three announcements that
were made by the FDEP at last week’s meeting will have positive
and beneficial ramifications for beach nourishment projects within
the Town of Palm Beach, and will also be helpful to its
neighboring municipalities along the coast. Southern neighbors
like South Palm Beach, Lantana & Manalapan can reap positive
results. Areas like Singer Island and northward can also utilize
what has been presented at the Beach Management program.
Fondren & staff announced that they had decided that a policy
change was necessary. This change has incorporated historical data
on shoreline conditions dating as far back as 1940 which was
retrieved through the cooperation of Palm Beach County. It is
important to note that 1964 was the year that the State of Florida
first recognized beach erosion as a statewide issue. Therefore,
Fondren and staff have settled on 1964 for the retroactive date of
shoreline conditions in order to ease permitting for new beach
nourishment projects. Ms. Fondren explained that their concept
"would affect future nourishment proposals in those areas
that have not currently had nourishment projects". This new
policy would "make it possible for future projects to be able
to reflect back on the 1964 shoreline numbers for beach
nourishment levels". Ms. Fondren also said that this
"gives flexibility to the plans for potential shoreline
projects going out into areas that have previously been unable to
be permitted because of the resources in the area". This new
policy concept is "allowing for some recapture of the
shoreline to occur".
Hunegs, Esq., Leadership for The Coalition SOS, believes that
because of the persistence of his organization, in concert with
others, the state agency, under the guidance of Ms. Fondren, has
made tremendous strides with their intervention on behalf of the
residents of this State. Hunegs believes the FDEP’s stand and
new Historical Shoreline Policy concept will change the face of
beach nourishment and the permitting process. It will allow better
designed protective beaches with greater width to be created as
they had existed years ago. Mr. Hunegs said that the SOS believes
this type of policy shows great foresight and is highly
next significant FDEP announcement by Deputy Director Fondren was
that Florida has a world renowned reputation for their coastal
policies. Fondren said that "the FDEP’s role is to sustain
the beaches with balance". "Our job is to refine our
methods and to find a continual balance". She said that their
policy endorses "flexible structures and a combined effort of
hard structures". When asked in conversation after her
remark, Ms. Fondren explained that "flexible structures
consist of beach nourishment which would also include dunes."
"Hard structures," Fondren said, "are groins and or
breakwaters." That would mean that the State of Florida FDEP
Beach Management endorses both of these as a solution for our
beach erosion problems. This is quite a revelation and it is most
significant and positive.
Director Fondren also declared that the State Strategic Beach
Management Plan is to incorporate beach nourishment plans and
coastal alternatives that were presented to the FDEP, "such
as those presented by Coastal Engineer, Karyn Erickson, with
possible solutions in the Reach 7, Reach 8 area". (Reaches 7
& 8 are in the south-end of the Town of Palm Beach). She said
that these are potential alternatives that can be appropriate.
three announcements are significant for those living in perilous
conditions along the shoreline. Richard Hunegs, the SOS
Leadership, credits Danielle Fondren for these enormous
accomplishments and forward motion. He also credits Robert
Brantley, Coastal Engineering Program Administrator, Bureau of
Beaches & Coastal Systems of the FDEP who works under Fondren’s
leadership. Hunegs especially gives accolades and strongly
compliments Coastal Engineer Karyn Erickson, whom the SOS has
retained. It was the SOS that financed her development of a beach
nourishment plan and second coastal alternative, both with limited
coastal structures. Richard Hunegs says that this is all due to
Erickson’s fine work. The SOS will continue to endorse and to
utilize Erickson’s exceptional coastal engineering capabilities
and knowledge for the benefit of all residents of the Town.
Palm Beach Councilwoman, Bonni Fischer is also enthusiastic and
supportive of the announcements made by FDEP Deputy Director
Fondren. Fischer agrees that they can benefit South Palm Beach and
Hunegs believes that there are now reasons to be positive. He said
that Danielle Fondren is "showing the way" and "it
is now up to the Town of Palm Beach to put its oar in the water to
get this accomplished by adopting the programs that Fondren and
the FDEP have presented." "The Town has to adopt what
has been presented by the FDEP without further delay."
2: What All Residents Need To Know About Who Provides Shoreline
Protection And How Each of Us Can Make A Difference
taken from the rooftop of a condo after T.S. Sandy by Atriums
Condo Manager, Marc Ritcher, shows fast and furious waves knocking
the dunes out at the Halcyon, and overcoming the seawall at the
Patrician and pounding the seawalls at the Claridges and La Bonne
Vie. What looks like sand on all sides of the first sea wall is in
fact the waves crashing over the wall towards the building. This
was only a Tropical Storm. The sea wall does not appear to be
doing much good. In Ft. Lauderdale is has been
that a sea wall collapsed. The sea walls are known to
cause tremendous beach erosion. This area has never been
provided a beach nourishment project as of yet.
taken by Residences at Sloan’s Curve Manager, Ivan Fraser. None
of the condos and buildings within Sloan’s Curve have ever
received a beach nourishment project and there is little beach
left due to severe erosion. You can see that one small surge and
these homes will be flooded out. Sloan’s Curve area is dire need
taken by Atriums Manager, Marc Ritcher. Having never received a
beach nourishment project and having a severely eroded beach and
then little left of their dunes, the Atriums, like their
neighbors, the Halcyon, the Emeraude, 3360 and like those north
and south of them are in jeopardy when another storm strikes.
Condo has the ocean up to what remains of their beach stairs.
Severely eroded beach has never had a beach nourishment project
and the dunes are now eroded as well. No protection here. Photo
taken by Dorchester Manager, Ned Fleming.
is about time that residents who live in the State of Florida and
are taxpayers understand what we can do to help protect our
first thing you need to know is that neither the State of Florida
nor the Federal government provides beach nourishment projects.
That responsibility falls squarely on each municipality. For
example, the Town of Palm Beach has its own coastal management
department. Some shoreline municipalities are under the purview of
their County for providing shoreline management, as is the case
with Singer Island and South Palm Beach which are under the shore
management of Palm Beach County.
Town of Palm Beach will be used as an example for this scenario.
The Town is responsible for the development of beach nourishment
plans and designs that will adequately protect all of the Town of
Palm Beach shoreline so that their taxpaying residents are
protected from a storm event. The Town of Palm Beach should then
proceed to develop the best projects. The Town of Palm Beach has
been fortunate to have the assistance of a town organization,
called The Coalition To Save Our Shoreline, (SOS) which as you
already know is under the leadership of Richard G. Hunegs, Esq.
The SOS has retained a well respected Coastal Engineer, Karyn
Erickson, to design a beach nourishment plan and second coastal
alternative for two areas of the Town. These plans include a
limited number of coastal structures that will hold the sand in
place. These types of plans in these specific areas have never
been developed before by the Town for its residents. The SOS plans
both provide adequate and environmentally sensitive beach
nourishment and have been acknowledged by other coastal engineers
to be viable. The plans have been submitted to the Town, the State
and the County. It is the Town’s responsibility to develop beach
nourishment projects. According to an SOS source, these beach
nourishment plans were developed by the SOS because it appeared
that the Town would otherwise continue to neglect those areas as
they had done for so many years.
process that follows is that the Town goes next to the State of
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, (FDEP), to get a
permit. The State approves the design and then the Army Corps of
Engineers usually follows the State’s recommendation and would
also approve the permit that the Town requests.
there the permitted project goes back to the Town of Palm Beach,
whose taxpayers finance these coastal management projects. Whether
projects are done individually or jointly, neither the State nor
the Federal government is responsible for developing the beach
nourishment plans or implementing them. The State and Federal
governments only grant permits for the projects presented to them.
Wyett, former Town of Palm Beach Councilman for many years and
currently adviser to the NAPB, a north end civic organization that
is in agreement with the SOS, confirmed that the Town of Palm
Beach is responsible, by tradition, for developing beach
nourishment plans and projects which are submitted to the State
situations such as the Town of Palm Beach, the municipality is
responsible for implementing adequate projects that have been
permitted by the State and or Federal government. Any belief or
assertion that State or Federal red tape could prevent Town
Officials from the development of a beach nourishment plan that
has adequate protection would be erroneous.
the projects have been developed and permitted the taxpayers
provide the revenue to protect the shoreline which in turn
protects their entire town.
seems to be some confusion between repairing the latest damages to
the dune system and the development of adequate protective beach
nourishment plans. It is significant to point out here that the
dunes should not be the only defense against a storm. Constructing
adequate beach nourishment projects would avoid this current
Town of Palm Beach has asserted that their "level of adequate
protection" is satisfied as long as the buildings are still
standing, whether or not they are flooded and therefore unsafe and
uninhabitable. This is the Town’s definition of adequate
shoreline protection. In the Town of Palm Beach, two
organizations, (both the SOS & the NAPB), are at odds with
this level of protection as stated by the Town of Palm Beach and
believe it is highly inadequate and unacceptable. It is a waste of
tax dollars to promote projects that pursue the Town’s current
"level of protection".
a resident you can make a difference and find out the level of
protection in your own municipality. Most importantly, stress that
any beach nourishment plan must assure that the dunes will lie
beyond the beach and are the last line of defense, not the
properties and buildings where so many people live. We need to
create beach nourishment projects that will not waste our tax
dollars. We must protect our valuable shoreline and the homes that
lie beyond it.
1: Heed the warning that Sandy left in her wake before it is too
Condo- 3400 S. Ocean, demonstrates the severe beach erosion, loss
of dunes and beach steps. At high tide the ocean is pounding what
is left of the dunes. One good surge and the damage will destroy
valuable real estate and endanger residents.
by 3400 Condo Manager:
dune erosion in front of The Reef Condo, 2600 Condo and all their
southern neighbors. Another storm and the buildings are in
jeopardy. This portion of beach had been renourished in 2006 and
the sand had washed away shortly afterwards and along with
taken by 2600 Condo Manager:
II Co-op. The Town claimed that the sand washed down from
previously renourished beaches to their north to give the
Ambassador a large beach. Sand on a flat beach is not designed to
protect. Look how close to the buildings it is. One good wave and
disaster would be forthcoming.
Dubé, Administrative Assistant checks out the damage.
taken by Ambassador II Manager:
at Sloan’s Curve. Nothing remains of the previously eroded beach
and the dunes have been devastated as much as their beach steps.
The waves are seriously too close. Another tropical storm could
cause severe damage. In desperate need of much better shoreline
by 2100 Condo Manager:
Storm Sandy, which became "Super Storm" as it moved up
the coastline and struck the northeast, should ring all the alarm
bells for those who live in Palm Beach County and any of the
shoreline municipalities that suffered severe beach erosion from
nothing more than a "Tropical Storm."
north, Sandy left behind "Catastrophic Devastation" in
those shoreline communities that were wiped out and totally
destroyed by a fluke "Super Storm" that caused so much
tragedy for so many. The fact that locally, Sandy as nothing more
than a slow moving Tropical Storm, completely wiped out dune
systems, with already eroded beaches in front of them, should be a
"WAKE-UP CALL" for all those shoreline municipalities’
where their residents’ homes at this point are hanging out in
the reports of how some of the shoreline in the Town of Palm Beach
has been left bare from merely a Tropical Storm, makes it
essential that coastal management stops spending more and more tax
dollars on repetitive reviews and studies around which continues
the procrastination that keeps their residents in peril. It is the
responsibility of government to protect the citizens and their
properties before tragedy strikes and wipes out a community. We
don’t want to need FEMA; we want proactive protection so that we
don’t lose everything we value.
the Town of Palm Beach , the most major issue that is little known
by the public is what our Town considers their
acceptable "Level of Protection." The Town thinks it is
acceptable if everything is washed away, destroyed and
"sacrificed" as long as the buildings are still
standing. The buildings can be completely flooded and therefore
uninhabitable, but according to Town standards this is their
acceptable level of "Shoreline Protection."
source from the Coalition to Save Our Shoreline (SOS) says that
both the SOS organization and their ally organization from the
north-end of Town, the NAPB, have a major bone of contention with
the Town of Palm Beach’s failed level of protection for the
thousands of residents that live in this peril. As Condo News
readers are all aware from our last issue, the purpose of the SOS
is to gain adequate shoreline protection for the residents living
on or near the coast in the Town of Palm Beach. To that end, under
the leadership of Richard G. Hunegs, Esq., the SOS retained and
financed well respected Coastal Engineer, Karyn Erickson’s
development of an environmentally sensitive and permitable beach
nourishment plan and design with an additional coastal beach
alternative in two areas of coastline in the town to rectify the
neglect and impending catastrophic conditions that have been
allowed to exist for so many years.
a resident in a local municipality who now understands the
implicit need for adequate shoreline protection, you each need to
contact your municipality and make sure that they know the beaches
should be adequately renourished and designed to be our first line
of defense. The dunes should be the last line of defense, not the
properties and buildings where so many live. You can play a part
in avoiding certain disaster. Contact your municipality and let
them know your thoughts on this matter.
to come ...
Beach County Drenched by T.S. Isaac
band from T.S. Isaac churned up the ocean --
from 3360 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, FL
by Maddy Greenberg
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