The  Dawning  of  a  New  Year ! !

by Diana DiMeo 
January 2010

Happy New Year!!!

The Community Officers Association of Singer Island (COASI) kicked off its 2009/2010 season on 21 November.  The Capri Condominium hosted the meeting.  Chair Dawn Pardo, District 4's City Council Representative and Ken Direktor, attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, were the keynote speakers presenting to a full house. 

COASI meeting - Ken Direktor, Bill Contole and Dawn Pardo.

Ms. Pardo covered a number of topics important to all of us.  Dawn stated that the Riviera Beach City Council kept busy over this past summer moving projects forward on both the mainland and Singer Island.  Chair Pardo's remarks were in depth and demonstrated her total commitment to the betterment of our city.  Her discussion was followed by a very informative question and answer period. 

Ken Direktor focused on Bill #SB880, which failed to pass during the last legislative session.  This bill would have cleaned up many of the issues created by a bill affecting condominiums that was passed in 2008.  Bill #SP880 was over 100 pages long and included many items.  Governor Christ vetoed the bill because of only one item, the one postponing the retrofitting of sprinkler systems from 2014 to 2024.  The bill had passed unanimously in the house and senate, so it is expected to come up again in 2010.  Ken made a point of stressing the importance of staying on top of pending legislation and to make our legislators aware of our stands on issues that are being considered.  At the end of his presentation, Ken answered questions from the audience.  

Most of the condominiums on Singer Island, both in the Palm Beach Shores and Riviera Beach areas, as well as the three single family home associations (Palm Beach Isles, Yacht Harbor Estates and Yacht Harbor Manor) on the island are active members.  Meetings, which are held once a month from November to April, are open to current and past board members of the condominium and homeowner associations. 

Singer Island is fortunate to have an association such a COASI that keeps abreast of items of interest relating to its member organizations.  And, speaking of being fortunate, Riviera Beach's District 4 representative from Singer Island, Dawn Pardo, has announced her bid for re-election.  County Commissioner Karen Marcus has endorsed Ms. Pardo.  Senator Jeff Atwater has also given his endorsement to Dawn, stating that he would even knock on doors to garner votes for her.  We are very lucky that this dedicated young woman, who has a fierce love for the city in which she lives, has dedicated so much time and effort to making Riviera Beach the best possible place in which to live, work, and play. 

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Many believe that a community's future viability depends on its investment in its children.  To that end, Riviera Beach is supporting two youth-oriented initiatives:  a Saturday reading program for all school age children and the YouthBuild pilot program.  

Chairperson Dawn Pardo with DOTS students.

Chair Pardo introduced the DOTS (Developing Optimistic Thinkers) Success Academy's reading program in August, asking her fellow council members to support this program.  The council awarded a $20,000. grant to fund 22 weeks of the program.  Volunteers from every walk of life, including firefighters, lawyers and teachers, support this pilot effort.  Its initial target was to build the reading skills of 60 students.  The students are from elementary, middle and high schools, including some students from the juvenile detention center. 

There was a large turnout on the first day of these sessions bringing the registration to 122 students.  The program is an effort to promote reading comprehension and academic excellence.  There are a number of incentives built into the program to encourage the children to improve their reading ability. 

An interesting discovery was made during Dawn's interaction with DOTS.  A large number of school children in Riviera Beach do not have a dictionary at home.  It is very difficult to learn to read and interpret words without such a reference.  In an effort to alleviate this deficiency, Ms. Pardo made several public announcements encouraging residents to donate dictionaries through her office to be distributed to those students needing a dictionary.  

A second initiative is the Riviera Beach YouthBuild Program, which was started in July 2009 with the blessing of the Riviera Beach City Council.  No city funds are involved.  This pilot program is sponsored by the Marine Industry Education Foundation at the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, and is open to 18 - 24 year olds.  Participants must be high school dropouts and preference is given to Riviera Beach residents.  The program, with its emphasis on education, job training, employment skills, and leadership development, is aimed at leading participants to a job and a high school diploma and it includes on-going support for each of the participants. 

Donald Wilson, Lawrence Knight, Bill Contole, Tamar Reno, Vince Franko join Councilman Shelby Lowe to award Youth build graduation certificates.

The YouthBuild program is funded by a grant and is seeking additional grant and stimulus funds.  It is modeled on the national YouthBuild USA organization.  The local pilot program has applied for membership in the national organization, which will open new avenues for funding.  The training program matches student participants with homeowner fix-up projects for eligible residents.  The primary starting tasks are painting and landscaping; however, other maintenance work has been completed as well.  The daily fieldwork is supplemented by regular classroom study.  The emphasis throughout the program is on academics, so students must keep up their grades to stay in the YouthBuild program. 

Seventy-two applicants came to the kickoff meeting held at Newcomb Hall on 13 November 2009; forty two of these applicants qualified.  The first week of the pilot was a 'skills camp' where the participants were taught life skills, including what was expected of them -- come to class/work on time, wear closed toe shoes and dress appropriately, etc.  Attrition during the session brought the number of students down so that on 9 December 2009, after three weeks of training, fourteen participants graduated.  There was only enough money in the current grant to provide jobs for six of these students, so, eight of the graduates would not have been able to go on to the second phase of the program.  At the eleventh hour, just prior to the graduation ceremony, a contribution was received to fund the other eight graduates in Phase 2 of this process.  One woman was among the graduates.  All of these graduates are Riviera Beach residents.  These young people have a rigorous period ahead.  Starting on 14 December 2009, they will work from 12 - 4 p.m. each day and attend high school classes from 4 - 6:30 p.m.  

During the three-week 'skills camp' training program, the lives of six Riviera Beach residents were brightened by the work of these students.  The houses selected had to be owner occupied with the owner being elderly, disabled or in a very low-income situation making it impossible to hire a contractor to do the work needed.  What a wonderful win-win situation! 

Councilman Shelby Lowe was the original visionary behind this effort.  Mr. Lowe heard about YouthBuild USA and took the idea forward to George Carter, President of the Maritime Marine Academy.  Shelby felt strongly that the YouthBuild project was good for the city and he was able to get Mr. Carter to commit to implementing the program.  Councilpersons Lowe and Davis were involved in the early meetings with

Mr. Carter and Don Gibson, Program Director, as the program took shape and was implemented.  A number of readers of this paper who no longer have to 'punch the clock' have tremendous skill sets that, if volunteered, would benefit this program.  Do you have a skill that you would like to share with the young people attending this program or would you be interested in serving as a mentor for a graduating student who is entering the second phase of this education process?  If the answer is 'yes', please call Vince Franko at 841-7600 to discuss volunteer opportunities.

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Santa waiting for Johnny Longboats to open.

In 2007, the residents and businesses in Riviera Beach came together, with the assistance of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, to develop a feasible and realistic redevelopment plan for the city's redevelopment area (CRA).  The City Council adopted the "Citizen's Plan" that was the result of this effort.  The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council has taken the next step in moving toward the implementation of the Citizens Master Plan for Riviera Beach.  The code and land use changes that are necessary to implement the design that was proposed out of the Charrette of over a year ago, came before the city council for approval in early December 2009.  The Comprehensive Plan changes are necessary to bring the plan in line with the ideas that came from residents during the Charrette process.  

The proposed changes are focused on making it easier for development to take place in the marine district and in the CRA area.  The current Comprehensive Plan does not reflect the direction in which the city has been moving.  By updating the land codes and comprehensive plan, the city will then be able to start implementing the redevelopment plan.  The updated codes are aimed at protecting and enhancing the residential, commercial, industrial, and natural resource areas of Riviera Beach during this redevelopment activity.  

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Late breaking news concerning the renovations done at Bicentennial Park in Riviera Beach.  At a CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) meeting in mid-December, during the discussion concerning the park's future plans, the commission determined that some of the completed renovations, including the bermed areas, were not part of the site plan that they had previously approved.  Therefore, a public workshop to discuss this and other issues concerning the work in the park was scheduled for 17 December. 

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Please mark your calendars so that you do not miss the annual Palm Beach Shores Property Owners Pancake Breakfast scheduled for Sunday, 17 January 2010.  This event is open to the public with the first seating at 8:00 a.m.  To purchase tickets, please call the Town Hall at 561-844-3457. 

The Palm Beach Shores Town Commission has authorized the speed limit on the town's east/west cross streets to be reduced from 25 to 20 MPH.  This change will not go into effect until the signs are put up and notification is given to the public via the town's website, bulletin boards, etc.

The Town of Palm Beach is currently upgrading the interior of the sand transfer plant at the southeast end of town.  Representatives from Palm Beach will present proposals for improvements to the exterior of the pump house to the Palm Beach Shores Town Commission at a future date.                                               

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Please note:  The expressed opinions may or may not be the same as those shared by Seabreeze Publications Inc.