RPB Begins Implementing Strategic Plan

Royal Palm Beach has received the results of its Citizens Summit in April, where about 40 residents participated in a workshop designed to mold a strategic plan for the future of the village.

Residents were broken out into eight groups of about five each, who worked out answers that were later compiled by consultant Lyle Sumek.

Members of the Royal Palm Beach Village Council conducted their own workshop last summer to coordinate their visions for the future.

Results of the Citizens Summit were incorporated into other reports submitted by Sumek, who led both workshops. Afterward, he compiled a list of what came closest to common goals for both officials and residents.

“It will be made part of the strategic plan document, and we’ll use it for future consideration,” said Village Manager Ray Liggins, who explained that he is already incorporating results of the documents into village plans.

Questions and issues for residents were developed partially on the results of the council members’ workshop. Questions included what residents considered current successes of the village, why they chose to live in Royal Palm Beach, what they would like to see in 15 years, what the village should do now to start reaching those goals, and what is the best way for the village to communicate with them.

When it comes to current village successes, from highest to lowest, residents listed the opening of Commons Park, the location of the Aldi regional distribution center in the village, no increase in property taxes, street and street landscaping improvements, opportunities for resident input, the good financial condition of the village, the presence of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, a new principal and magnet program at Royal Palm Beach High School and efficient responses to Tropical Storm Isaac.

Among reasons for choosing to live in RPB, residents listed the village’s general safety as a community with quality schools and a “small town” feel. They also listed location, convenience, family-friendly orientation, value and affordability of homes, recreational opportunities, community events and diversity.

For their 2028 vision, major themes listed by the groups included improved safety with volunteer citizen patrols, reduced road speeding, neighbors knowing neighbors, clean canals and waterways, continued good service by the PBSO, street lights, reduced traffic congestion and buildings/homes kept up to code.

Residents also listed desires to reflect the village’s mission statement in being a premier residential community, with effective code enforcement, a well-maintained village infrastructure, residents involved in the community, village-wide Wi-Fi access, comfort in sending their children to the local public high school, parents involved with children, religious opportunities, an upscale retirement home, new construction contributing to attractiveness and low-impact businesses.

Participants also wanted to maintain a hometown feeling with community activities for all ages, good schools, great neighborhoods, parks, theaters and talent shows, beautiful trees and shrubs, limited industry, limited multifamily housing, a senior activity center, local transportation for seniors and residents, and assisted-living facilities for seniors.

Major themes listed as assets for the future of the village included parks, the recreation center, family-centered activities, quality public infrastructure, the library, a financially sound and stable village government, transparent village government, a youth activities/teen advisory board, open space, quality schools, good quality water supply, safety and open communication with residents.

Major themes in goals for 2018 and actions to initiate in 2013 include remaining financially sound with sound investments, tax increases only to maintain the standard of living, a balanced budget, industry services, maintaining reserves, attracting more business, keeping and rewarding talented employees, budget hearings open to the public with ample notification, responsible growth, cost-effective services, commercial and industrial uses at appropriate locations, and commercial annexation to increase the tax base.

Other listed goals were to make the village more livable with safe and convenient public transportation, more and safer bike paths, better school bus routes, uniform code enforcement, maintaining a good stormwater control system, and separate residential/commercial districts with minimal commingling.

Another major theme was to maintain responsive, community-based village services and facilities, with expanded services for the maturing population, maintaining an open and transparent government, improving on the use of social media, keeping county offices in the village, a checklist for residents applying for permits and services, quality customer service, strong code enforcement, and keeping roads and sidewalks in good repair.

Action ideas for 2013 included making a plan for the former wastewater treatment plant property, cleaning up and dredging canals, village beautification to include landscaping and pressure-cleaning curbs and sidewalks, building an aquatic facility, having more art shows, traffic control at H.L. Johnson Elementary School and better speed control on Crestwood and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.

Major themes for best methods of village communication with residents included Facebook, e-mail, text with a link, the village television channel, postings in grocery stores, the village web site and a community bulletin.

Liggins said he has already started incorporating the results of the strategic plan.

“We are making sure that items in the strategic plan will be in the budget,” Liggins said.

He also pointed out that creating a single-family residential use for the abandoned wastewater treatment plant and reconfiguration of village advisory boards were partially the result of the strategic plan.

“It’s as much about doing what’s in it as not doing anything,” Liggins said. “You can set your future by not doing anything. What I have now is a list of things to address.”