Boca beach and parks newcomers unseat incumbants

Erin Wright
Erin Wright
Craig Ehrnst
Craig Ehrnst

BOCA RATON — Two newcomers to the Boca Raton Beach and Parks District succeeded in their efforts to unseat longtime commission members in Tuesday’s election.

Erin Wright, a local business owner, unseated Earl Starkoff, who has served on the Boca Raton Beach and Parks commission since 2005, in a close race. Wright won 52 percent of the votes.

Craig Ehrnst, a treasurer at a Boca Raton-based insurance firm, won 56 percent of the votes, beating out Dennis Frisch, who has served two terms with the beach and parks district and also serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The beach and parks district collects taxes and is responsible for several public parks and beaches in Boca Raton and areas west of Boca.

“I think when two incumbents lose to challengers, it’s a sign that people are looking for change,” Wright said Wednesday.

Both Wright and Ehrnst said they were interested in working with their opponents in the transition.

“I don’t want to lose any of the knowledge that the incumbents have, but rather gain it and build on it as we go forward,” Ehrnst said Wednesday.

Before the election, Ehrnst and Wright both spoke of a disconnect between the beach and parks district and the city of Boca Raton, two separate entities that often have overlapping interests in Boca’s parks.

“The most exciting thing is building that communication between the beach and parks district and the city,” Ehrnst said.

The opportunity may present itself soon, Ehrnst added, with the city’s potential procurement of the Ocean Breeze Golf Course, on Northwest 2nd Avenue and Yamato Road, and the success in passing a citizen-initiated referendum to retain all city-owned land adjacent to the Intracoastal for public use.

» RELATED: Landslide vote: Boca waterfront property to be preserved as parks

Frisch said Wednesday that he was willing to work with Ehrnst during his transition.

“Erin Wright and Craig Ehrnst will have a steep learning curve to get up to speed on things … I would be willing to give (Ehrnst) some insight,” Frisch said.

Starkoff echoed the sentiment.

“If Erin (Wright) would like me as resource, keep my number in her cellphone,” he said.

Spanish River Boulevard nightly closures adjusted again

After initially pushing back the dates a week, crews now will close Spanish River Boulevard at Interstate 95 nightly on four nights, with one still to be determined.

The closures — which will be in effect on Spanish River from Broken Sound Boulevard to Airport Road from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9; Monday, Nov. 14; and Wednesday, Nov. 16 — are being done to allow crews to place beams as part of the new I-95 interchange at Spanish River. Another night closure will be announced at a later date.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

» RELATED: Work planned for nearly every Palm Beach County I-95 interchange in coming years

A project administrator for the interchange work announced the new dates after there were issues at the beam production facility.

The Florida Department of Transportation said the road will remain open during the day, and traffic will detoured via Dixie Highway and Broken Sound.

Though this closure will not affect rush-hour commuters, drivers still are advised to plan for delays and avoid the area.

The work is part of the $69 million project FDOT began construction on in 2014 to build a new I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard. Crews are slated to finish construction next summer. Click here for the latest updates from FDOT on the interchange project.

 

 

 

Delray’s theme for the annual holiday parade: ‘Rock and Roll Holiday’

Kelly Heber, 11, and fellow members of Dynamics of South Florida, a baton twirling club, perform with glowing batons in the Holiday Parade in downtown Delray Beach on December 12, 1998. (Staff photo by Jennifer Podis / Palm Beach Post)
Kelly Heber, 11, and fellow members of Dynamics of South Florida, a baton twirling club, perform with glowing batons in the Holiday Parade in downtown Delray Beach on December 12, 1998. (Staff photo by Jennifer Podis / Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — The music and decor of the Rock and Roll era is the inspiration behind this year’s holiday parade theme — a Rock and Roll Holiday.

“It can mean the classic Rock and Roll of the Elvis era to Rock and Roll today,” said Danielle Beardsley, special events coordinator for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

At least 60 businesses, organizations or groups participate in the holiday parade each year. The city is now collecting applications for this year’s parade, which will be held Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.

The Delray Beach Holiday Parade is one of the city’s longest running events, dating back to at least 1963, Beardsley said. Participants decorate floats based on the theme, then parade them through downtown Delray Beach on Atlantic Avenue from the Intracoastal Bridge westbound to Northwest Fifth Avenue.

“It’s always fun looking at the different creative ideas people come up with,” said Beardsley, who has coordinated the parade for the past 17 years.

The Rock and Roll theme was selected by polling city staff and previous parade participants, she said.

Those interested in applying for the parade should do so online at www.mydelraybeach.com before the Nov. 16 deadline.

 

Things to do: Palm Beach Israeli Film Series to screen seven movies in Delray

DELRAY BEACH — The 8th annual Palm Beach Israeli Film Series will screen seven films in Delray Beach, with many of the films making their Palm Beach County premiers.

The film festival kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 8 in Delray Beach with the screening of “Baba Joon,” a semi-autobiographical film about three Persian immigrants living in Israel, at Weisman Delray Community Center, at 7091 W. Atlantic Ave. They’ll screen a new film every month through May.

Each Delray screening costs $7 per person for Weisman Delray Community Center members and $8 per person for non-members.

The festival will also screen movies at Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach for $10 per person, per screening. For more details about the film festival, visit their website.

Here’s the full schedule:

Sunday, Dec. 11 in West Palm Beach and Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Delray Beach:

The Florida premiere of “Wounded Land,”about the partnership between a police officer and his regional commander forced to turn on each other while they watch over a terrorist at a city hospital.

Sunday, Jan. 8 in West Palm Beach and Tuesday, Jan. 10 in Delray Beach:

The Florida premiere of “P.S. Jerusalem,” with the filmmaker, Danae Elon, in attendance. Elon began filming her three young sons the moment she and her husband decided to leave New York and return to Jerusalem. Elon captured her sons confronting the challenges of mixing between Arabs and Jews.

Sunday, Feb. 12 in West Palm Beach and Tuesday, Feb. 14 in Delray Beach:

The winner of the 2016 Jerusalem Film Festival and Palm Beach County premier of “One Week and A Day.” The “tragicomedy” tells the tale of a grieving father who steals medical marijuana from the hospice where his 25-year old son died of cancer, according to festival coordinators.

Sunday, March 12 in West Palm Beach and Tuesday, March 14 in Delray Beach:

Based on a true story, “Kapo in Jerusalem” is about two Auschwitz survivors arrive in Jerusalem in 1946.

Tuesday, April 4 in Delray Beach and Sunday, April 9 in West Palm Beach:

The screening of “Atomic Falafel,” a comedy about how an Israeli boy and girl and an Iranian rap singer become friends through the internet and prevent a nuclear disaster from occurring between their two countries.

Tuesday, May 9 in Delray Beach and Sunday, May 14 in West Palm Beach”

“Peter the 3rd” is a comedy about a 65-year-old actor who never got a lead role, and who teams up with a 28-year-old waitress to ensure his pension.

 

Community leaders, want to read to grade-level children in Delray Beach?

The Rev. Kathleen Gannon of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Delray Beach reads to students on Delray Reads Day in 2012. (Contributed: Delray Reads Day)
The Rev. Kathleen Gannon of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach reads to students on Delray Reads Day in 2012. (Contributed: Delray Reads Day)

DELRAY BEACH — Several city leaders will spend the morning of Thursday, Nov. 17 reading at local elementary schools as part of a city-wide literacy campaign, and they’re seeking more volunteers.

Delray Reads Day is an annual event that started in 2012. Local volunteers sign up to read an assigned book and pose a discussion with students at the seven elementary schools in Delray Beach.

This year, volunteers will read “What Do You Do With an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada, “the story of one brilliant idea and the child who brings it into the world,” according to organizers.

Delray Reads Day will start with a breakfast at Plumosa School of the Arts at 7:30 a.m. The keynote speaker at the event is Marc Davis, an NBA referee who participates in the league’s TIMEOUT for Reading program to promote literacy.

Following breakfast, volunteers will head to their respective schools at 9 a.m. to read for 30 minutes to an hour.

The city launched a literacy initiative in 2011 to improve grade level reading after they learned 55 percent of its grade school students could not read at grade level.

“Our goal is to create long-term relationships between the schools and community members, and at the same time show our community’s commitment to improving our students’ third grade reading scores by 50 percent before the end of 2020,” according to the Delray Reads Day website.

Anyone seeking to volunteer for Delray Reads Day can submit a form online.

Delray’s new attorney could cost city more than double what it paid previous one

R. Max Lohman, the city attorney for the city of Palm Beach Gardens, stands outside his offices in Jupiter on August 13, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
R. Max Lohman, the city attorney for the city of Palm Beach Gardens, stands outside his offices in Jupiter on August 13, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — The city is moving forward with hiring R. Max Lohman, an attorney who represents the city of Palm Beach Gardens, to fill the often-changing seat of Delray Beach city attorney.

On Tuesday night, the city commission agreed to hire Lohman, of Lohman Law Group, on an hourly basis until they have time to evaluate the payment method in February.

Deputy Vice-Mayor Jordana Jarjura pointed out that the city would be paying Lohman, who will assume the role of city attorney and sit in on future commission meetings, more than anticipated.

Mayor Cary Glickstein agreed, saying the city would be paying more than “double what we paid our last city attorney.”

Delray’s last attorney was in-house, whereas the city is now opting to hire an outside firm.

Lohman is billing $210 per hour for general legal work, and $250 per hour for litigation, according to a city memo. In his application, his firm projected costs wouldn’t exceed $300,000.

City Manager Don Cooper estimated closer to $450,000.

Lohman said it was a matter of “trust.”

“There’s been a lot of turnover,” he told the commission Tuesday. “It’s not just you guys taking a risk on me; I’m taking a risk on Delray Beach.”

The city has had three attorneys come and go in the past three years.

In the agreement, Lohman will bill the city hourly for three months, then the commission will evaluate whether negotiations are necessary.

Four of the five city commissioners named Lohman’s firm as their first or second choice out of the four firms that vied for the role.

The fifth commissioner had Lohman as a last choice. None of the commissioners were named in the voting rankings.

» Related: What L. Max Lohman, Gardens city attorney, hopes to bring to Delray Beach

At long last, Delray iPic luxury movie theater could happen

A rendering of iPic Entertainment theater complex planned for downtown Delray Beach. (Contributed)
A rendering of iPic Entertainment theater complex planned for downtown Delray Beach. (Contributed)

DELRAY BEACH — Developers of a luxury movie theater can soon break ground downtown — after nearly three years of negotiations with the city — following a city vote Tuesday night.

The Delray Beach city commission voted to finalize agreements with iPic Entertainment, which proposes putting a luxury theater on Fourth and Fifth avenues just south of Atlantic Avenue. Commissioner Shelly Petrolia voted down both agreements, and Commission Mitch Katz voted down one.

Developers can now secure permits and begin construction.

The commission previously approved iPic, which promised to move its headquarters from Boca Raton to the 42,000 square feet of office space they plan to build in Delray Beach. The project also includes a 90-space parking garage and 8,000 square feet of retail space.

The city and iPic Entertainment on Tuesday had to iron out details of the project, such as parking and the land repurchasing rights in case the developer doesn’t move forward. Those details were sorted out in the finalized agreements, but not before a few commissioners shared concerns.

One of the contracts stipulates that iPic will move its headquarters to Delray and stay at least five years. But there’s no financial penalty if they don’t relocate, Katz pointed out.

“We’re setting this up so if they don’t keep their promise, all we can do is sue them,” Katz said.

Representatives from iPic confirmed in the meeting they plan to move the headquarters to Delray Beach upon completion of the project.

“They’re literally bending over backwards giving financial incentives … ” said Deputy Vice-Mayor Jordana Jarjura. “It’s as if instead of a red carpet, we’re treating them as if they’re trying to open another rehab facility in downtown Delray.”

If iPic doesn’t break ground on the parking garage or theater within one year of signing the contract, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency can buy back the land, and the city can take back the abandoned alley.

Petrolia said she is concerned the project won’t come to fruition, and the contract doesn’t protect the city in that scenario.

She said Tuesday: “The issue before us is are we going to get what we actually voted for?”

Study of Delray intersection where Uber driver was killed to be released soon

A state study of the downtown Delray Beach intersection where an Uber driver was killed in a crash in September is close to being finished and will be released soon, an official told The Palm Beach Post.

The Florida Department of Transportation announced soon after the Sept. 21 wreck that it would look into the intersection of northbound Federal Highway and Northeast First Street to see if a signal is needed.

View of a Lamborghini after it was involved in a deadly collision with an SUV Wednesday in Delray Beach, police said. (Photo courtesy Delray Beach Police Department)
View of a Lamborghini after it was involved in a deadly collision with an SUV Wednesday in Delray Beach, police said. (Photo courtesy Delray Beach Police Department)

Police say 60-year-old Roger Wittenberns, who founded the Lady Fitness of America health club chain, was speeding north on Federal in a yellow Lamborghini with his girlfriend, 61-year-old Patty Ann McQuiggin, who was driving a yellow Porsche, when Wittenberns slammed into the driver’s side of an SUV driven by 82-year-old J. Gerald Smith. Wittenberns later admitted he and McQuiggin had been drinking that afternoon, police said.

Smith was killed in the collision. He had been heading home for dinner, trying to cross Federal traveling west on Northeast First Street at the time of the crash.

In the wake of the wreck, residents and business owners near the intersection told The Post they were concerned a lane-reduction project on the stretch of Federal through downtown Delray Beach had reduced visibility at the intersection.

The study is almost completed — it’s in draft form and with the city for feedback, said Mark Plass, FDOT District 4 traffic operations engineer.

Once the city provides its feedback, FDOT has some additional data to add and then the study will be final and the results will be released, Plass said.

The state’s review has looked at traffic conditions, vehicle volume and average speeds along Federal to help determine if the intersection should receive a signal. The city’s input will be important to make sure any decisions made by the state don’t have a negative effect on downtown Delray Beach’s overall grid and traffic flow, Plass said.

 

 

 

Spanish River Boulevard nightly closures pushed back a week

A temporary overnight road closure set to begin today has been pushed back to next week.

Spanish River Boulevard will be closed from Broken Sound Boulevard to Airport Road for work on the new Interstate 95 interchange. The closure will be in effect nightly, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday, Nov. 7 to Wednesday, Nov. 9.

» RELATED: Work planned for nearly every Palm Beach County I-95 interchange in coming years

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Florida Department of Transportation said the road will remain open during the day, and traffic will detoured via Dixie Highway and Broken Sound.

Another round of nightly closures at the site will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Monday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov. 17.

Though this closure will not affect rush-hour commuters, drivers still are advised to plan for delays and avoid the area.

A second round of night-time closures will be announced later, a spokeswoman for the interchange project said. Check back for updates.

The work is part of the $69 million project FDOT began construction on in 2014 to build a new I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard. Crews are slated to finish construction next summer. Click here for the latest updates from FDOT on the interchange project.