Downtown Delray parking meters up for discussion in city this week

Delray Beach wants to nix free parking and add meters to its 3,000-plus city-owned spots downtown. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — A plan to place parking meters at more than 2,000 free spots in downtown Delray Beach is up for discussion this week.

The city commission will hear a presentation Wednesday on the parking plan, which includes smart meters that would charge a fluctuating rate based on location and demand, a concept called “surge pricing”. Some details haven’t yet been ironed out, including a parking plan for downtown employees who currently take advantage of free city-owned spots.

The parking meters could net the city as much as $3.15 million a year, city officials said in early July.

» READ: How to eat cheap at downtown Delray’s priciest restaurants this week

City staff will present the parking plan at a commission meeting Wednesday evening.

The city owns 3,277 parking spots in downtown, 727 of which are inside two parking garages.

The parking garages currently charge a $5 flat fee after 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Seven-hundred spots along the beach are already metered, but would become smart meters with charges that fluctuate based on time of day.

The remaining spots in downtown are currently free for 8- or 2-hour parking.

Check back Wednesday for more details on this proposal.

NEW: International flights coming to Boca Raton Airport soon

BOCA RATON – Pilot Gustavus McLeod (cq) takes off past the tower at the Boca Raton Airport, departing on his fifth attempt to become the first pilot to solo circumnavigate the Earth – pole to pole – in a single-engine plane Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004.  (Staff photo by Chris Matula)

BOCA RATON — International travelers flying into state-owned Boca Raton Airport will soon be able to cut out an extra leg of their flight.

The airport, on Airport Road at Glades Road just east of Interstate 95, is constructing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility so international travelers can soon fly directly into the state-owned airport.

International flights currently have to stop at Palm Beach International or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports to go through Customs before flying to Boca Raton. The 4,400-square-foot Customs office is under construction and expected to open this fall, according to airport officials.

» READ: Why Boca wants control of ‘private’ holiday park displays (Hint: Satanic signs)

“The environmental impact will be measurable in terms of reduced fuel consumption and noise in the community,” Clara Bennett, executive director of the Boca Raton Airport Authority, said in a news release.

The $4.5 million project is largely funded by a grant from the state’s Department of Transportation. The remaining funding came from the Boca Raton Airport Authority, meaning no local tax dollars were used to fund the project.

Local boaters can also clear customs at the Boca Raton Airport when the facility opens.

Aircrafts will be charged $50 to $500 depending on the size of the craft. Marine vessels will be charged about $15 per person. Those fees are expected to offset the cost of Customs and Border Protection services, the airport reports.


Low-priced Whole Foods, other restaurants coming to Delray Beach

A rendering of a redevelopment planned at Delray Plaza, at 600 W. Linton Blvd. The new plaza will bring in a 365 by Whole Foods Market. (Courtesy of S.J. Collins Enterprises)

DELRAY BEACH — A smaller version of popular grocery chain Whole Foods, one that carries items at a lower cost, is due to open in Delray Beach. Expect new restaurants as well once a makeover is complete at the plaza at Linton Boulevard east of Interstate 95.

Delray Plaza, an 85,000-square-foot mixed-use plaza at 660 W. Linton Blvd., is undergoing a redesign that will bring in 365 by Whole Foods Market, breakfast and brunch cafe First Watch and Mediterranean eatery Zoes Kitchen, plaza owner S.J. Collins Enterprises said.

» READ: Delray Housing Authority finds new home after storm destroyed old one

Whole Foods Market 365, a smaller-format store with lower prices than the original Whole Foods Market, will take the 30,000-square-foot space held by Palm Beach Gym. It will be the first 365 by Whole Foods in Florida, according to the grocery chain’s website.

The plaza will also be home to the sixth Palm Beach County location for the popular Florida-based restaurant First Watch. And the first Zoes Kitchen on the east coast of South Florida, according to its website.

Pet Supplies Plus, Pollo Tropical and Subway, and other retail and office tenants, already at Delray Plaza will remain in place, according to the developer.


Delray Housing Authority finds new home after storm destroyed old one

Delray Beach Housing Authority’s new office space on Northwest Fifth Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. (Contributed)

DELRAY BEACH — After Hurricane Wilma destroyed the Delray Beach Housing Authority’s offices more than a decade ago, the organization exhausted its resources putting roofs over the heads of families in need, and long ignored its own roof.

The housing authority, which provides homes to low- and moderate-income through government assistance, bounced between various rental properties after the 2005 storm.

» READ: Shhhh! Five secret (and free) places to park in downtown Delray Beach

“I sometimes used that irony in talking to the people we help,” said Dorothy Ellington, president of the housing authority. “I tell them, ‘We know what it’s like to be homeless too.’ ”

(Staff photo by Chris Matula/The Palm Beach Post)
DELRAY BEACH – Carver Estates resident Jerry Franklin (cq) stands in his bedroom after the ceiling in his apartment collapsed during Hurricane Wilma in Delray Beach Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Almost every bit of his apartment’s ceiling and its insulation are on the floor and furniture, causing Franklin to sleep in his car in the complex’s parking lot at night. Although the buildings have already been condemned and the residents will be moved, the damage suffered through the last storm rubbed salt into the wounds of many living there.

But the department is homeless no more.

The housing authority opened a 4,800-square-foot office on Northwest Fifth Avenue in downtown Delray Beach’s West Settlers Historic District this month.

It is permanent and, more importantly, Ellington said, closer to the families it serves in lower income areas west of Swinton Avenue.

The housing authority was in the midst of planning a much-needed redevelopment of a public housing complex called Carver Estates in the mid-2000s when Hurricane Wilma hit Palm Beach County, destroying the offices, condemning the homes and displacing some 200 families.

“Our main focus was to make sure that the families we served had homes,” Ellington said. Wilma, a Category 2 storm, collapsed the roofs of many Carver Estates homes, forcing the housing authority to pour their money into moving families and, eventually, replacing the homes with new ones.

Carver Estates became Village Square apartments, on Auburn Avenue north of Southwest 10th Street, with 144 public housing units, and it’s still growing with plans to build housing for the elderly.

Finding land and building a space for the housing authority itself fell by the wayside for more than a decade.

Without a home and a focus on finding homes for others, the authority turned to renting office space. It was costly and inconvenient – neither of the two rental properties had a front office, leaving visitors lined in chairs in the hallway outside the door.

The new office, with white walls and wide windows, includes a lobby, boardroom and break room for employees. The atmosphere puts families at ease, Ellington said.

“Just because families are low-income, does not mean they should be treated like they are low-income,” she said. “They should feel good about coming to this building and they shouldn’t feel embarrassed about coming to us.”


Five secret — and free — places to park in downtown Delray Beach

Delray Beach wants to eliminate free parking and add meters to its 3,000-plus city-owned spots downtown. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — Downtown parking can be a pain. And pretty soon it’ll be a strain on your wallet too.

The city is considering adding parking meters to 3,000-plus free parking spots in downtown Delray Beach. When they do, the smart meters will hike up the price of prime parking, such as those coveted side-street spots along Atlantic Avenue.

City officials are expected to talk more about the parking meters at a meeting July 6.

As we prepare to say goodbye to free parking when we hit The Ave, take advantage of these free parking gems around Delray Beach while you can.

» READ: Delray board rejects historic district redevelopment: ‘It’s too much’

Here are some great places to park in downtown Delray Beach:

The library

The Delray Beach Public Library parking lot, shared with the South County Courthouse, on Southwest Second Avenue south of Atlantic Avenue may seem like a trek from East Atlantic, but a it’s only a few blocks from the action and usually empty after the library closes.

And, if you’re not feeling up for a walk, a trolley swings by the courthouse every 15 minutes and stops east.

Parking garages

Hit the parking garages before 4 p.m. to avoid fees throughout the week. There’s a $5 flat fee if you park after 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But if you get a spot in the garage early enough, you don’t have to pay.

There’s the Old School Square parking garage on Northeast First Avenue at Northeast First Street, just a block from Atlantic Avenue. And there’s the Robert Federpiel Garage on Southeast First Avenue just south of Atlantic.

Railroad lot

There are 191 free parking spaces — 2-hour and 8-hour parking — at the lot tucked behind the Silverball Museum on Northeast Third Avenue adjacent to the railroad tracks. They tend to fill up during peak hours, but are worth checking for their proximity to the shops, restaurants and bars downtown.

Cason Cottage lot

There are just 10 parking spots at the Cason Cottage House Museum on Northeast First Street just west of Northeast First Avenue, but they’re somewhat hidden and sometimes vacant. The museum is typically open only during the day November through April, so you may have luck with this lot.

And if you happen to land a spot, it’s just a block from Atlantic Avenue.

Tri-Rail station

If you want to avoid the parking chaos, opt for this easy option: The Tri-Rail station at Congress Avenue just south of Atlantic Avenue. Yes, it’s a bit far from the bustling portion of downtown, but there’s always an empty parking spot and a trolley that rolls by every 15 minutes between 6 and 11 p.m., and 8 a.m. to noon on weekends.

You also get to avoid Atlantic Avenue traffic when you’re on your way out of the downtown.

Plus, these spots aren’t city-owned. So when paid parking does roll into downtown, this is one hidden gem you still won’t have to pay for.


Morikami Museum celebrates anniversary with discount tickets, festivities

The James & Hazel Gates Woodruff Memorial Bridge which is the entrance to the Japanese Gardens at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. (Palm Beach Post staff photo by Bob Shanley)

DELRAY BEACH — The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens celebrates its 40th anniversary this month with a celebratory bash that includes a musical performance, time capsule creation and discounted tickets.

The museum and 16-acre garden west of Delray Beach, at 4000 Morikami Park Rd, is offering four tickets for $40 on Sunday, June 25 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Visitors can create their own 40th anniversary button, see a Japanese-themed musical performance and create and share their favorite Morikami moments for a time capsule that will be buried during a private ceremony, among other activities, according to the museum.

» RELATED: In honor of Morikami Museum’s 40th anniversary, its history in photos

The museum shop will offer a 10 percent discount, and the museum restaurant, Cornell Cafe, will offer special 40th anniversary sushi rolls and appetizers.

The museum is using the hashtag #MoriTurnsForty on social media to generate buzz around the anniversary event.

For more information about the 40th anniversary event, visit

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.

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.

Unlimited tacos and tequila? This sizzlin’ Delray event has them

The El Cabo Margarita at Cabo Flats. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — Forget “Taco Tuesday.” How about “Taco Friday“?

Unlimited craft margaritas, a taco station and nacho bar are some of the highlights of an event Friday at Delray Beach’s Old School Square. Tequila & Tacos will be held at campus’ Fieldhouse, at 51 N. Swinton Ave., at 6 p.m.

A ticket to the event, which costs $45 and can be purchased online, buys you unlimited access to a lengthy list of craft margaritas that include Mexican restaurant Cabo Flats‘ Beer Margarita, Margarita Sangria, Mexican Hipster, and Strawberry Margarita Punch.

» READ: 7 injured after car drove into Delray Beach senior arcade

The chicken taco, right, and the fish taco, left at Cabo Flats. (Libby Volgyes/The Palm Beach Post)

The event features a taco station with beef, chicken, pork and fish, a nacho bar and tastings of signature guacamole and salsa from three popular Delray Beach restaurants.

Tequila & Tacos will also have interactive games, such as Mexican Bingo and a sombrero dance, according to organizers.

The event is part of the Sizzlin’ Summer Social Series, which includes four events at that highlight craft cocktails at Old School Square.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

What: Tequila & Tacos

When: Friday, June 16, 2017 at 6 p.m.

Where: Old School Square Fieldhouse, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach, FL 33444

How much: $45

More info:


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.