The Village of Royal Palm Beach begins 2020 both reflecting upon the past and setting goals for the future. Fresh from celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2019, Royal Palm Beach officials welcome the new year with new initiatives, high hopes and an upbeat attitude.
“We have the best residents. It’s the residents who live here that help make this a special place to come to raise their children, or a place to retire,” Mayor Fred Pinto said. “That’s always how our village has grown over the years, providing a place to raise your family and have your retired family members live in the same community. We look forward to serving them in the coming year.”
A variety of successful events ranging from movie nights to a weekly green market keep the community connected throughout the year. Royal Palm Beach’s recent Winterfest event alone saw a tremendous turnout with more than 15,000 people.
“We continue to look for ways to improve existing events and add new, exciting events while keeping the costs affordable,” said Village Manager Ray Liggins, who believes that the village offers something for everyone. “Find something that appeals to you and come join the fun.”
A milestone for the village in 2019 was the celebration of the 60th anniversary of its incorporation in 1959. The village took time to reflect upon the past and thank individuals key to the success of the community. But the celebration was also a jumping-off point for the new decade ahead.
“We are looking to the future. When you look at the first 60 years, we want to do things now so the next 60 years will be the best,” Pinto said. “This is one of the reasons for going forward with the project to build a new Village Hall. We want to put something in place that will be here for the next 30 or 40 years.”
Late last month, the council authorized Liggins to enter into an agreement with an architectural firm that will redesign the Village Hall complex to create a new, hurricane-proof facility for the village’s administration. There remains much to be done before breaking ground on such a project, but Pinto hopes the plans will be complete by the end of 2020.
Another big project on the horizon is the formal integration of Palms West Hospital into the village. “I’m hoping that in the first quarter of 2020, we complete the process of bringing Palms West into the village. It’s a great move for the village, and it’s a great move for the hospital,” Pinto said. “They are going to expand the facility and build on the property. One of the things they are focusing on is becoming a nationally recognized place for treating acute illnesses in children.”
Other new initiatives involve the presentation of a projected traffic impact study on Madrid Circle in La Mancha, opening its connection to State Road 7 as an exit-only road, the installation of more security cameras and license plate readers throughout the village and the completion of street lighting on Okeechobee Blvd.
Royal Palm Beach is also continuing its efforts to offer more services for senior citizens.
“The Capstone opening on Okeechobee Blvd. will be the village’s first assisted living and memory care facility available to village residents,” Liggins noted.
A program that began in 2019 but will ramp up during 2020 is the monthly senior citizen smartphone classes. Upon completion, participants receive one ride-share gift certificate per year.
“It is to introduce our senior citizens to the transportation opportunities that are available to them. The classes teach our senior citizens how to use their cell phones to take advantages of these services,” Pinto said. “Our objective is increase awareness and let seniors know they are not trapped at home. If they want to get out and go somewhere, and not have to depend on Palm Tran Connection — which takes a lot of time to use — they can. We also will continue to work with our Young at Heart organization. They have a lot going on.”
Other successes of the past year included the reopening of the expanded Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center, a redesign of the village’s web site, the implementation of a monthly e-newsletter and a biannual community magazine. The art in public places ordinance was also put into action.
A major project coming up for the village is the 2020 Census. This nationwide collection of population information only happens once a decade, and it is used to determine federal funding and support for the future until the next census.
“Be counted. It helps build better communities. Missed persons affect the next 10 years of village and county funding and federal government representation,” Liggins said. “The village collects more funding from state and county taxes based on population than we collect from local property taxes.”
The funding is connected to many social programs for both seniors and youth, and the amount given all comes down to the population head count.
“It’s not abstract. It’s very real,” Pinto explained. “With the last census, we did the calculations, and we had about a 78 percent turnout. As a result, we lost a little bit more than $4 million in revenue. Our goal this year is to recapture that four million, and to do that, we want 100 percent turnout.”
Liggins also shared a few words for the community as we look ahead to 2020.
“Learn from the past, prepare for the future and live in the present,” Liggins said. “Happy New Year!”