At the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16, consultant Mary McNicholas with Geoffrey B. Sluggett & Associates said she had put in seven appropriation requests with the state in preparation for Palm Beach County Days in Tallahassee.
“Six were filed yesterday morning, so they’re in by deadline tomorrow,” McNicholas said.
They include requests for canal refurbishment for $1.1 million, stormwater system repair for $1.8 million and development of a North Road multiuse trail near the now-closed cut-through for $45,000.
“Now that the cut-through is closed, there is a little bit of a change and reduction in the design there, so that’s why the number has come down,” she said.
Road improvements are requested for more than $6.6 million.
“That was pretty much conversion of substandard dirt roads to a hard surface with some additional projects,” McNicholas said. “That includes additional rock and things like that.”
Appropriations requests for Okeechobee Blvd. improvements are for $1.2 million, and public works equipment building rehabilitation funding requests are for $750,000.
“We do think that this year should be a good year from a financial standpoint in the state,” McNicholas said. “The state is obviously getting troves of money, so we’ve heavily emphasized water.”
She noted that Palm Beach County Days in Tallahassee starts Jan. 11 and runs through Jan. 12. This is a time when local officials head to Tallahassee to meet with legislators and other state officials.
“I really need to start strategizing on the meetings and scheduling,” McNicholas said. “We need to make sure that if any of you wish to go, we need to be a team, so if one of you is not happy with the appropriations I’ve put in, you need to be part of the team while you’re there, regardless of whether you like it or not, and, believe me, we have had that in the past.”
Overall, however, the trips have been successful.
“The amount of work and the positivity has been very pleasant to watch, but we would need to know as far as hotel reservations, as far as registration, as far as travel, we need to know that rather quickly,” she said, adding that the trek to Tallahassee is strenuous.
“As you can attest, in the past, you know the clip at which we move, and not only with meetings. You potentially get 10 or 15 minutes at the most with each chair, each person or committee person we have strategically scheduled with, but at times we’ve had to split up,” she said.
Vice Mayor Laura Danowski asked how long the trip would be, and Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said the working window is about 48 hours, from Jan. 11 to Jan. 12.
“It’s really longer than a day because there are receptions and legislative sessions that go on the night before,” Titcomb said. “We figure at least two days minimum up there.”
McNicholas said meetings are set up the second day so that the Loxahatchee Groves delegation can go as a team and put their best foot forward.
“Not only that, it’s a long trip up there,” she said. “There’s not really an easy way to get there.”
McNicholas added that she also represents the Indian Trail Improvement District as far as the $9.2 million J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area funding request to complete the levee, which the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation has endorsed. She asked for the council’s support for that, noting that Loxahatchee Groves was also impacted by the flooding after Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012, during which the existing Corbett levee partially breached. “The Corbett levee was actually only half rebuilt,” she said. “They gave $4 million for the South Florida Water Management District to build half of a levee. Half a levee is really no levee at all.”
She asked for support of completion of the levee in the form of a letter of recommendation in support of that funding. Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia made a motion for the council to support the completion of the levee, which carried 5-0.