Looking Ahead To Changes We Would Like To See

With 2013 coming to a close, the promise of a new year is upon us once again, offering a clean slate, a fresh start and new opportunity. Some use the new year as a chance to kick into gear on promises long forgotten. Here at the Town-Crier, we look back at the year that was and look forward to what the new year will bring. As we move toward 2014, there are several things we hope to see.

Real Estate Relief — This year saw a steady up-tick in real estate prices as the market saw more activity. Homes long vacant have begun to fill. The foreclosure rate has also plummeted, with Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock reporting that November saw foreclosure rates decrease by 47 percent from the previous year. In 2014, we’d like to see that rate drop even lower, and see more of the homes on the market refill with families who will become part of our communities.

Less-Divisive Elections — Coming up this year are several municipal elections. Though elections are always controversial, the 2012 election cycle saw a new level of divisiveness in Wellington. Though some of the heat from that election has died down, the community has not completely recovered from the rift that was formed. The election saw far more money spent than years past, and deeply negative campaigns for the first time. We hope never to see an election cycle as bitter as 2012, and with another on the horizon, we hope everyone can remember that candidates run because they want to do what’s best for the community.

Thoughtful Development — This year saw the start of several new development projects. While this is a good indication of economic recovery, we worry that some of them are being pushed through too fast by developers and officials who are dreaming of the boom years. In 2014, we’d like to see an organized plan for residential and commercial development that looks comprehensively at the makeup of each community. Currently, projects are largely being approved on an as-presented basis with no overarching strategy or plan. This has caused derision in the community, and it makes sense instead to work collaboratively with residents for a vision of the future that takes into account all sides, not just developers looking to jump back into construction.

No Vacancy Signs — It is also important not to forget amid the new construction and planning that there remain far too many vacant storefronts in our communities. From small retail space to big-box stores, the western communities has plenty of room for businesses looking to expand. Until those spaces are filled, the impact of the economic upturn will not truly be fulfilled and acknowledged. Empty storefronts are a sign of bad times — times that are hopefully behind us — and it’s important that businesses retrofit and move into those spaces before officials rush into more commercial development.

No matter what you have on your list for the new year, we at the Town-Crier hope you have a happy one.