Lox Council Prioritizes Legislative Requests

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved a proposed legislative agenda on Tuesday to submit to County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation in preparation for Palm Beach County Days in Tallahassee on Jan. 12-13.

Several council members are planning to attend Palm Beach County Days to have the town’s voice heard on local legislative issues.

The original list was prepared by the Palm Beach County League of Cities, and council members moved some of the 14 priorities higher up on the list.

Councilman Tom Goltzené questioned one item that would ask for grant funding for land acquisition to develop a downtown.

“You want to be a developer?” Goltzené asked. “I don’t think we want to be buying up somebody’s land.”

Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel said he agreed with Goltzené but thought the intention was not for the council to be developers.

“This is not to develop a downtown,” Jarriel said. “This is to use grant money to buy a piece of property in the center of Loxahatchee Groves, if we wanted a town hall in the center of Loxahatchee Groves. Maybe we need to reword it.”

Town Manager Bill Underwood said that the intent is to get financing to acquire land in the middle of Okeechobee Blvd. to create a “town square” and force rerouting of traffic so that it had to stop, slow down and go around.

Goltzené suggested rewording the request to land acquisition for parks, rather than a downtown.

Councilman Jim Rockett said that he thought the list was a bit long and that if they were asking for grant money, they should make the requests more specific.

Goltzené said some items, such as legislation to control sober homes and regulate septic tanks, were statewide issues that the town was simply lending its support to. He said he was also concerned about the Florida Department of Transportation’s plans to expand Southern Blvd.

“It’s not going to be possible for the [Palms West] Plaza and the A&G [Market] to continue to operate because they’re not each going to get their own entrance,” he said, explaining that the council might need to reconsider alternative entrances from Tangerine Drive.

“They said they might have an eight-lane highway there,” Goltzené said. “They might not build a six-lane, they might just go straight to eight lanes. What they’ve got planned there is not at all what they have there today.”

Goltzené also suggested that they think about requesting sound walls for Southern Blvd., explaining that if Southern Blvd. were widened, it would be heard beyond Collecting Canal Road.

Mayor Dave Browning recommended prioritizing the list.

“We have 14 items,” Browning said. “By the time they get to number eight, they might lose interest.”

Goltzené recommended moving grant requests for trail base improvements, trail fencing and legislation that does not affect properties with working septic tanks to the top, followed by support for funding for the new Palm Beach State College campus, land acquisition for property on Okeechobee Blvd., grant funding for a horse arena at Loxahatchee Groves Park and grant funding for main trunk water lines.

“After number 7, let them fall,” he said.

Other items on the list include financing for drainage improvements on town roads, licensing and control of sober homes, and funding for drainage improvements to the D Road Canal.