RPB Cultural Center Work Leads Capital Spending For 2018

The biggest capital improvement project for the Village of Royal Palm Beach in fiscal year 2017-18 is the long-planned renovation and expansion of the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. That project comes in totaling $3.2 million.

Financing for the work is coming from the village’s general operating fund this year, with $2.17 million coming out of the impact fees fund and $1.45 million coming out of the general capital fund.

The village has primarily budgeted all of its capital improvement projects and others under the general operating fund for the upcoming fiscal year. They are unlikely to see any major changes, if any changes at all, between now and final adoption of the budget next month.

“It becomes increasingly hard for us to make changes at that point,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh said. “That’s why we do the budget workshop. If they see things they don’t like or they want to change, they can make them then, and that gives the finance department an opportunity to figure out how things are going to get paid for.”

The Cultural Center project started as three separate projects that have been merged together.

“We were close to having to redo the roof on the building, so we took the money for that project, and it was time to upgrade the carpet, the audio system and lighting in there,” Marsh said. “So, that got pushed into this project. And then we were looking to enhance the exterior of it, so that got pushed into this project.”

Marsh said that the village has an advantage in the form of the Royal Palm Beach Recreation Center, allowing for a smoother transition during the 12-month period that the Cultural Center is closed for improvements.

“If you have a building that is open to the public and you’re doing construction, it prolongs the construction,” he said. “Our ability to move these services to the Recreation Center, and let them get in there and quickly do the improvement without having to deal with the public, is an advantage.”

Another large project funded in the budget is the Okeechobee Blvd. lighting project that involves adding roadway and pedestrian lighting on Okeechobee from Folsom Road to State Road 7. That project totals close to $1 million, Marsh said.

“There is some existing sporadic lighting, but the project would bring it up to [Florida Department of Transportation] lighting standards for both the walkways and the roadways inside those limits,” he said. “And there is also a walkway connection that’s included in that project at Partridge Lane, where there is a small link missing from our FPL pathway, and this would complete that link.”

The work will create a signalized crossing along that pathway, which was previously missing.

“It’s Ponce de Leon Street on one side and Partridge Lane on the other, but essentially the path, they would be able to cross at the signalized intersection and continue south, adjacent to the commercial, where the walkway would be constructed as part of that project, and then make their way back to the FPL pathway, once it gets beyond the commercial,” Marsh said.

The money for that work is held in the impact fees fund. A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) grant makes up part of the money allocated for the project. The improvements are designed to make it safer for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

“There is a high school on that section of roadway, and obviously there are times during the year where students have to walk to school when it is dark out, so this will make it safer for those students who come from the neighboring residential area by foot or bicycle,” Marsh said. “It will allow lighting in there, making it safer for them.”

Phase two of the RV/boat parking project is budgeted for $950,000 this year under the sales tax surtax fund. The lot from phase one is almost at capacity. Phase two will be identical in size to lot one. “It’s already 90 percent designed. The majority of it was designed with the first phase,” Marsh said. “So, we will be looking to bid. The bid opening will probably be right at the first of next year, and then with the council in February 2018.”

Phase two is directly south of the existing RV/boat lot near Seminole Palms Park.

“If you’re on Lamstein Lane, and you were looking at it, you’re not going to see anything new because we already constructed the berm and landscaping surrounding the second phase lot. We did all the drainage for it,” Marsh said. “So, the only thing that will be new in this phase is the concrete, lighting, security cameras and sensing.”

The project for village-wide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements is budgeted for $775,000 under the general operating fund. An MPO grant makes up $659,000 of the total budgeted for the project.

“That would be a grant to look at some of our older subdivisions, such as La Mancha, the Willows, Counterpoint and the Colony, within those sections to bring the sidewalks up to current ADA standards, and also to make improvements to those sidewalks to improve continuity,” Marsh said. “A lot of the existing sidewalks simply just wrap around blocks.”

This project will bring everything to current standards.

“On the local collective roadways, we’ve looked to make those sidewalks continuous for users, so they wouldn’t have to enter and exit through driveways, heading down those local collective roadways if they’re bicycling or walking,” Marsh said.

Lighting improvements for Camellia Park and the Bob Marcello Baseball Complex total $740,000. These improvements will be made at the same time for each individual project.

“These outdated lights don’t meet the current standards,” Marsh said. “They don’t meet the current width load requirements for the lighting, and they are not energy-efficient, so replacing them makes sense. Just in the energy efficiency gains, we can recover our money in a relatively short period of time, and then, obviously, there is a safety factor when you’re talking about sports fields and making sure you have the right amount of light.”

The village-wide traffic calming policy is budgeted for $400,000 under the impact fees fund. If any of the plans are successfully voted in by the public, that money is available to implement traffic calming policies, Marsh said.

“The council directed us to move forward on traffic studies with four roadways — La Mancha Avenue, Ponce de Leon Street, Sparrow Drive and Sandpiper Avenue — and those are at different phases in our traffic calming policy,” Marsh said. “We put funding in there to fund these if they come to fruition.”

Bridge slope stabilization is on the village’s current five-year plan to keep the village’s bridges up to FDOT standards. This project’s funding comes out of the sales tax surtax fund.

“We have $80,000 in next year’s budget, $160,000 in 2019, $80,000 in 2020 and then $160,000 in 2021,” Marsh said, adding that the numbers in the later years will probably need to be refined.

There are currently no safety problems with the bridges in the village, he said. However, over time, the sedimentation, channel depths and filter fabrics that hold off the banks along the bridges degrade.

“This will be looking at all of our bridges and put together a design to bring them to the current standards,” Marsh said. “There is no danger to the bridges. This is routine maintenance. It just needs to happen. FDOT actually inspects our bridges annually and rates them, and we don’t have any substandard bridges.”

The first public budget hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 7, with the second public budget hearing and final adoption scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19.