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The Ocean Strand Dead End

Ocean Strand: The Beach And Parks Predicament

by Joe Panella

Property owned by Beach and Parks District is not owned by the City

It’s a misconception that the City of Boca and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District (BPD) are two parts of a single government entity. The City is a taxing authority and a property owner and so is BPD.  Property owned by BPD is not owned by the City, and property owned by the city is not owned or controlled by BPD

There are two pieces of Boca Raton property in the news of late. One is Ocean Strand spanning intracoastal to ocean. The other is the old Ocean Breeze golf course adjacent to Boca Teeca. Ocean Breeze is intended to become the Boca National Golf course.

Ocean Strand
Ocean Strand

Ocean Strand is owned by the Beach and Parks and is zoned recreational. However, it appears that it has been proposed as a site for a twin tower commercial development against the wishes of many Boca Raton residents and against current zoning laws.

Ocean Breeze is also owned by Beach and Parks, and is being proposed as a site for Boca National, a public golf course development.

Beach and Parks is proposing that the City float bonds for the golf course development

The Predicament:

Here’s the problem: With its other ongoing financial commitments, Beach and Parks is saying it needs to borrow from the city to afford the buildout of Boca National.

Beach and Parks is proposing that the City float bonds for the golf course development, with the proceeds being loaned to Beach and Parks to begin construction.  At the same time, it would appear that someone at Beach and Parks is pursuing the sale of Ocean Strand to a developer (a sure way for the entire Beach and Parks board to get unelected, IMHO).

The Solution: 

EDSA: Ocean Strand Character Images from Waterfront Master Plan
EDSA: Ocean Strand Character Images from Waterfront Master Plan

This all comes at a time when public records analysis indicates the City of Boca Raton appears to be flush with cash. So, what if:

  1. The City buys Ocean Strand from Beach and Parks
  2. Beach and Parks uses the money to build the Boca National Golf
  3. The City develops Ocean Strand as part of the Comprehensive Waterfront plan

Everybody wins:  

  1. The city would acquire a rare and precious piece of property that Beach and Parks has failed to develop in 25 years. 
  2. The City can put Ocean Strand into any number of recreational uses in its march toward the “2020 Vision” goal of a “blue-way” of connectivity between city owned parks on the ICWW.
  3. Beach and Parks would have the money to develop the Boca National golf course.
  4. Residents obviously benefit with a new recreational space from property it now owns that Beach and Parks let dormant for 25 years. 
  5. Beach and Parks does not have to raise taxes or borrow money from the City for the golf course.  
  6. The City does not have to put residents on the hook for bond interest payments. 

What could be better than the City, Beach and Parks and residents getting a win?

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