In the dark days of World War II, Winston Churchill said:
“I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behavior never lies.”
When it comes to East Palmetto Park Rd, it is Palm Beach County showing a behavior of doing. Before you say “But it’s a county road so duh!”, know that the City of Boca Raton is the party responsible for prioritization, approval and generally making it happen. They also make it NOT happen and that seems to be the case for work promised to be completed in July 2022..
Work on the physical road itself is a county job. Speed limits, crossings, signage, parking, landscaping, lighting etc are the city’s job. All that aside, pedestrians and cyclists know all too well it’s a crowded and dangerous mess that for years, hasn’t been maintained to modern standards for livability and mobility. See this article for details.
New County Commissioner Marci Woodward Got It Done
After hurricane Matthew, FPL invested in more robust power infrastructure. The Boca Raton City Manager declined the chance to bury the power lines. Consequently, FPL installed the large concrete poles that have blocked the south sidewalk ever since. Combined with the on-street parking, the result was a mess for everyone trying to use Boca’s gateway to the beach.
In late 2019, the Riviera Civic Association led by barrier island residents Barr, Nelson, Fluehr and well known Boca Architect Doug Mummaw got together and formed an initiative called Boca Beachside hoping to jumpstart re-development of East Palmetto Park Rd. According to them, it’s been nothing but lip service and inaction from City Hall. No crosswalks, no improved sight lines, no bump-outs … nada. The City did a pedestrian test for a sidewalk and reported there weren’t enough pedestrians to justify a sidewalk. Turns out the temperature that day was 54 degrees. You get the idea.
Frustrated at the feet dragging, the Boca Beachside group met with newly elected County Commissioner Marci Woodward this past April. Commissioner Woodward got the lowdown and got to work. In a matter of months, she and County crews were able to actually get something done anyway.
What the City Manager said would be done July 2022 (here) got done by Commissioner Woodward in only 3 months. Kudos to Commissioner Woodward for getting the plan that had sat around since 2018 done. ICYMI, the lanes reopened June 30th in time for Independence Day weekend. The painting phase remains but this is what the fixed sidewalk looks like now:
Catch the Vision for a new East Palmetto Park Rd
The new sidewalks on the south side give you a glimpse of the possibilities. Sadly, it took the County embarrassing the City to get it done. The County has demonstrated by its behavior that it’s all in. Is the City of Boca Raton? Don’t listen to what they say. Watch what they do.
There is still work to be done to organize motorists, cyclists, e-whatever and pedestrians on East Palmetto. But with another season on the horizon, the many folks walking to the beach will have a safer route thanks to County’s improved sidewalk.