Florida’s Turnpike to grow from 6 to 10 lanes, add express lanes in south PBC

Florida’s Turnpike after express lanes and widening. (FDOT)

BOCA RATON — As use of Florida’s Turnpike grows, as will its lanes from six to 10 between Glades Road and Boynton Beach Boulevard with the addition of express lanes, residents of southwestern Palm Beach County learned Monday evening.

The Alliance of Delray Beach, an association of residents west of Delray and Boca Raton, was presented the long-term plans to expand the Turnpike by Florida Department of Transportation officials at a meeting Monday. More than two dozen residents attended the meeting, many of whom shared concerns about added traffic noise as a result of the highway’s expansion.

By 2023, construction will likely begin on expanding the lanes from six to 10 between Glades Road and Atlantic Avenue, said Michael Shannon, the department’s director of transportation development.

» RELATED: What do turnpike express lanes have to do with bicycles and sidewalks?

Construction on Atlantic Avenue to Boynton Beach Boulevard won’t start for at least the next five years.

To avoid a gas line just east of Florida’s Turnpike, the lanes will shift and additional lanes will be added west, Shannon said.

Two center express lanes will be added in both the south and northbound directions between Glades and Atlantic, similar to the express lanes in place on Interstate 95.  With the planned addition of express lanes on Florida’s Turnpike, Florida will be the first state in the U.S. to enact an additional toll on top of an existing one.

While residents were assured the heavy daily traffic flow on the highway meant necessary expansion, many shared worries of added traffic noise.

“It’s loud there now,” said Cherie Gross, a realtor west of Delray Beach.

» READ: 7 things to know about the I-95 express lanes planned for Palm Beach County

A noise analysis will be performed within a year or two to determine the expansion’s effect on neighboring communities, FDOT officials said. The department is exploring the potential for noise walls, concrete barriers between the highway and communities that would absorb and reflect some of the noise.

“If you want to sit outside on your patio, (the noise) becomes a problem,” said Michele Fingerman, a resident of the Addison Reserve community just east of Florida’s Turnpike.

Noise barriers, however, have their limitation, Shannon said. The noise is often decreased in homes immediately adjacent to the highway, but bounces over to homes farther away from the highway.

“Noise walls are more of a perception benefit than an actual benefit,” Shannon said.


Healthy Tampa-based food delivery service to open shop in Boca Raton

Red Quinoa Hash from Tampa-based meal delivery service Fitlife Foods (Courtesy)

BOCA RATON — Want healthy, prepared meals delivered to your doorstep?

Residents of Boca Raton will soon have that option as Fitlife Foods, a Tampa-based food delivery service, will open its first Palm Beach County shop in Boca on June 22.

The new store will be the fifteenth location in Florida.

» READ: Boca Raton sees double-digit percent crime increase in 2016

Fitlife Foods offers healthy, pre-made meals — such as paleo chicken, red quinoa hash, chicken enchiladas and gluten-free chicken pizza supreme — that can be delivered to your home or picked up at the shop, at Glades Plaza on Glades Road just west of Town Center Mall.

They offer dozens of recipes — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — that make it easier to meal prep for health-conscious locals.

Fitlife Foods’ menu prices range from $3 to $13 and include gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo and low-carb options, with nutrition information printed on the label.

The meal service also has a recycling program that allows customer to bring back 20 containers for a $10 credit to the store.

The grand opening will take place on June 22 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 10:45 a.m. Guests will receive a complimentary meal, wellness session, store tour and Fitlife prize giveaway.

Head Chef Andrew Ruga will be doing live cooking demonstrations s from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information about FitLife Foods, visit its website.



Boca Raton sees double-digit percent crime increase in 2016

(Palm Beach Post file photo)

BOCA RATON – There was a 13 percent increase in violent and non-violent crimes in Boca Raton last year, according to data released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday.

Aside from rapes, which decreased between 2015 and 2016, and murder, which remained steady at just one per year, all violent and non-violent crimes in Boca increased slightly.

» READ: Boca bans swimming at all city beaches due to bacteria levels

There were 2,734 reported crimes, largely non-violent, such as motor vehicle theft, larceny and burglary.

Boca Raton Police cleared 29.4 percent of the criminal cases, one of the highest clearance rates among Palm Beach County’s largest cities, according to the data.

That increase in crime was also seen in neighboring cities Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, although Boca’s overall crime rate is the lowest of the three.

Crime also rose slightly in Palm Beach County, while statewide cases are at the lowest level in 46 years.

There were large Palm Beach County municipalities that reported decreases in crime last year, including Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Royal Palm Beach and Wellington.

JUST IN: Boca lifts beach swim ban after bacteria levels improve

Surfers and beachgoers at South Beach Park in Boca Raton. (Photo by Lulu Ramadan / Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — City beaches, which were temporarily closed to swimmers, have re-opened after bacteria levels have improved, according to city officials.

The waters were closed to swimmers temporarily after the Florida Department of Health reported elevated bacteria levels Sunday. Samples of the water taken later Wednesday showed improvement in bacteria levels.

» READ: See fresh ice cream frozen before your eyes at shop soon-to-open in Boca

Department of health advisories have since been lifted.

JUST IN: Boca bans swimming at all city beaches due to bacteria levels

Midtown Beach warning of high levels of bacteria.
( Palm Beach Post file photo by Lannis Waters)

BOCA RATON — No swimming at Boca Raton beaches, city officials said Wednesday shortly after the Florida Department of Health reported elevated bacteria levels.

The beaches will remain open to the public, but double red flags are raised, which indicate no swimming.

The city hopes full use of the beach will be restored between 24 and 48 hours, said city spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson.

A health advisory was posted Wednesday morning after two Boca Raton beaches were found to have elevated bacteria levels, the Florida Department of Health reports.

Spanish River Park, at 3001 N. Ocean Blvd, and South Inlet Park, at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd, showed bacteria levels greater than 71 colonies per 100 milliliters of marine water, putting the beaches in the “poor range,” the department reports. For reference, a good range is between zero and 35 colonies per 100 milliliters.

The bacterial spike, noticed after the water was sampled Sunday, could be caused by wildlife, heavy recreational usage, high surf from high winds and high tides or runoff following heavy rains, but the exact cause is unknown.

See fresh ice cream frozen before your eyes at shop soon-to-open in Boca

Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream flash-freezes its ice cream using fresh ingredients. The Miami-based chain opens a Boca Raton location on Monday, June 19, 2017. (Courtesy)

BOCA RATON — Fittingly themed on the periodic table of elements, you can see the chemistry behind ice cream-making at Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, a Miami-based chain opening a shop in Boca Raton.

The new shop, at the plaza on Yamato Road at Jog Road, opens Monday, with a grand opening planned in one to two weeks.

Fresh ingredients are flash-frozen in a cloud of smoke behind a glass barrier, so patrons can see their ice cream being made. It’s a trendy process that Chill-N founder and owner Daniel Golik brought to Miami nearly five years ago.

» READ: Cringe-worthy amount of trash collected from Boca’s shores put on display

Courtesy of Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream

“They get to see all the ingredients being mixed in,” Golik said. “It’s neat from them to see it being made.”

The Boca location is the sixth for the ice cream chain, and the northernmost.

“It’s a great market for families,” Golik said. The shop is just west of Spanish River High School.

Patrons pick their ingredients from a list that resembles a periodic table. They choose an ice cream or yogurt base (which includes a dairy-free coconut milk base), a flavor and “Mix-N’s” that include your typical ice cream toppings. Then they watch the shop employees flash-freeze their chemical concoction with nitrogen, which creates a cloud of smoke.

The nitrogen eliminates a need for a commercial freezer, Golik said, meaning you’ll get fresh, creamy ice cream without crystals every time.

The most popular flavor is Nutella. But Dulce De Leche, another fan favorite, is made from locally sourced, authentic Argentinian dulce de leche. The coffee flavor is also made from locally sourced Cuban espresso.

For more information about Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, visit its Facebook page.

Cringe-worthy amount of trash collected from Boca’s shores put on display

Volunteers collect trash from Boca Raton’s mangroves as part of a cleanup effort coordinated by Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. (Contributed)

BOCA RATON — An adorably colorful sea turtle sculpture sits on display at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.

But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the turtle is made from trash — all collected from the city’s shorelines and mangroves.

A sea turtle sculpture was created from trash collected from Boca Raton’s beaches and placed on display at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. (Contributed)

Gumbo Limbo, at 1801 N Ocean Blvd, coordinated a cleanup effort along Boca Raton’s beaches and mangroves this past weekend in honor of World Oceans Day on June 8. So much trash was collected, the center said on Facebook, that the nature center created displays out of the garbage, including the “trash turtle.”

During the coastal cleanup, plastic bottles, balloons and other materials were collected.

» READ: See outdoor concerts and movies screenings free in Boca this summer

The center, which focuses its efforts on coastal education and sea turtle rehabilitation, said the trash affects sea turtle nesting during season. There are 292 loggerhead, 12 green, and 5 leatherback turtle nests currently along Boca Raton’s 5-mile coastline, Gumbo Limbo said.

Over the weekend, the nature center coordinated several events and exhibits to raise awareness about the importance of keeping the coastlines clean.

One exhibit included the dumping of 70 pounds of plastic bottles into Gumbo Limbo’s mangrove aquariums.

See outdoor concerts and movies screenings free in Boca this summer

A crowd gathers at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton for a free Summer in the City event in 2015. (Contributed by Mizner Park Amphitheater)

BOCA RATON — You can jam to a Beatles tribute band or watch “Moana” under the night sky this summer in downtown Boca Raton.

Mizner Park Amphitheater has once again launched its popular free concert and movie-screening series Summer in the City. Every weekend between Friday and Aug. 12, the venue, at 590 Plaza Real, will host at least one concert or kid-friendly film screening.

Plus, food is available to buy during the events, and lawn chairs are available for rental. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or chairs to lounge on the amphitheater lawn.

» READ: Flooding west of Boca ‘like a mini hurricane’

Free parking is available at the nearby City Hall and Downtown Library.

Get your calendars ready. Here’s the full lineup for the summer series:

Friday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance by Long Run, an Eagles tribute band

Sunday, June 18 at 7 p.m.

Florida Atlantic University’s Old Time Concert in the Park

Friday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m.

A screening of the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” at 8 p.m., with a magic pre-show at 7 p.m.

Friday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance by Liverpool Live, a Beatles tribute band

Friday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance by Turnstiles, a Billy Joel tribute band

Friday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m.

A screening of the film “Moana” at 8 p.m., with a Polynesian dance pre-show at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance by Dreams: Crystal Visions, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band

Friday, Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance by Ruffhouse, a Bob Marley tribute band

Saturday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m.

The Symphonia Boca Raton performs “A Space Odyssey”

For more information, visit Mizner Park Amphitheater’s website.

Boca leaders to meet with park district to finalize Ocean Breeze deal

Ocean Breeze Golf Club (Photo by Lulu Ramadan/Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — The city council and Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District will meet in July to finalize the details the of a $24 million deal to purchase Ocean Breeze Golf Club, the district said Tuesday.

The contract to purchase the land has been signed by the beach and park district, a special taxing authority that includes the city and areas west of Boca Raton, and Ocean Breeze owners Wells Fargo and developer Lennar Corp.

The district agreed to pay $24 million for the golf course, despite some last-minute pleas from residents who wanted to see the price go down.

» READ: Contract drawn up for Boca district’s $24 million purchase of Ocean Breeze golf course

The deal isn’t done, however. The district still requires the city council to approve a loan to fund the acquisition of Ocean Breeze, a 214-acre course near the Boca Teeca Condominium complex at Northwest Second Avenue and Yamato Road.

An exact date hasn’t yet been set for the joint meeting, but it will take place in July, district officials say.

The now-closed championship Ocean Breeze Golf Club includes 27 holes and a hotel property, which the district may lease or sell outright.

District officials have discussed partnering with Greg Norman to build a golf academy at the site, which could generate revenue for the district.


Census: Every 3 1/2 hours, a person moved to Boca Raton last year

(Courtesy of City of Boca Raton)

BOCA RATON — Nearly 2,600 people moved to Boca Raton last year. That breaks down to about seven people per day, according to recently released census data.

Estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau suggest the city’s population grew more than 2.5 percent in 2016, one of the largest percent increases of Palm Beach County’s cities. There’s an estimated 96,000 people living in Boca Raton.

That growth appears to be consistent with new developments in Boca Raton, including about 1,200 units built downtown and 1,000 units built in the northeast end, said Mayor Susan Haynie.

» RELATED: $24 million Boca-Ocean Breeze golf course deal OK’d

In the past year, Boca Raton has also created and retained 9,600 jobs, Haynie said.

“With those jobs come families that move to Boca Raton, which probably accounts for some of that growth,” she said.

The growth of Florida Atlantic University, Haynie added, has also contributed to the city’s overall growth.

RELATED: Boca, Boynton and Delray drive growth in Palm Beach County

Boca added the highest number of new residents, apart from unincorporated Palm Beach County. The city added more people than the county’s 30 slowest-growing cities combined.

The growth is taken into consideration with some new projects, called Planned Mobility Developments, that encourage alternative forms of transportation to alleviate traffic in the city. The new units in the northeast end of Boca Raton, on Broken Sound Boulevard, were built into an office-retail complex to encourage short commutes.

Several traffic projects are underway, including a new Interstate 95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard.

Nearby south county communities Boynton Beach and Delray Beach also added thousands,  according to the census data.

And growth — long a key to Florida’s economy — was seen in every Palm Beach County city.