RPB Council Hears Concerns Following Deadly Accident

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting on Thursday, April 21 began with a moment of silence for the lives of two high school students lost in a deadly accident at a bus stop on Crestwood Blvd. and Cypress Lake Drive on March 22. Two others were severely injured in the accident, which happened when a driver lost control of his vehicle and plowed into the bus stop.

The meeting itself was dominated by the plight of concerned citizens requesting the installation of a traffic light at the intersection.

Resident Linda Moreno addressed the council regarding an online petition bearing more than 1,000 signatures at the time of the meeting. She said that there had been 13 accidents near that location in 2021 and three so far in 2022.

“On March 22, our community experienced the most tragic accident to date. We have a community in mourning,” said Moreno, who expressed frustration at the growth of traffic on Crestwood Blvd. “Our community demands something be done. My whole life, I’ve been a humanitarian, and with all due respect, I’m going to appeal to you. I’m here to appeal to install a traffic light on Crestwood Blvd. and Cypress Lake.”

Moreno added that large oak trees placed in the median as part of a beautification project years ago have now tripled in size and block the visibility of a sharp, curved road.

“I ask you tonight, what is a life worth? What are two lives worth? What will you lose by putting this traffic light in? What will we gain — safety. Maximum control of the intersection. Protection for both vehicles and pedestrians,” she said.

Unfortunately, installing a traffic light is not as simple as it sounds. A formal traffic study has to be done, and the intersection must meet certain criteria laid out by the state.

“We have no authority to put a light there, or anywhere,” Mayor Fred Pinto explained. “[Palm Beach County] did conduct a traffic study for that intersection. There are certain rules and regulations they have to follow to make the determination. That has been done officially, the report has been published and clearly stated that it did not meet the warrants. There is nothing we can do. This is not politics; this is following the law.”

Pinto also made it clear that an online petition was not something that the council could bring to the county for review. They would need a physical petition with the names and addresses of Royal Palm Beach residents. There is no minimum number of resident signatures required for the petition to be considered.

After a physical petition is brought to the council, Pinto said that the village would bring it to the attention of Palm Beach County. “I’m going to ask this council to formally transmit this petition to the county for official comment. Now what does that mean? Well, there may be other options that the county can do to mitigate the traffic issues that you mentioned,” he said. “We will do what we can.”

Councilman Richard Valuntas followed up with his own experience trying to get a traffic light installed near his home off Southern Blvd.

“I see a lot of people, and I agree with you. One thing that jumps out to me — how about a right turn only? I live right off Southern Blvd. They expanded it, and now you can’t make that left… There could be other options,” he said. “These two children that my son rode on the bus with, it’s terrible. I’m speaking for myself, but if there is something we can do, I’m committed to doing it. I hope everyone gets this because there is nothing more important than the safety of our residents.”

In other business:

• The process of splitting an approximately half-acre parcel of publicly owned land at 6845 Camellia Park Drive moved forward, as the council agreed to negotiate sale agreements for the surplus land at the back of the Royal Plaza shopping center. It was split between Paint Lux Auto Body and Keiser University, two adjacent businesses that had initially bid on the entire parcel. The purchase price of $405,000 will be split between the two buyers. The item passed unanimously.

• After nearly two years of discussions, business owner Nelson Posada received final approval for a special exemption to open a birthing center at 1490 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. The special exemption applies only to Posada’s business, and the permission does not carry over should a different company move into the space in the future. The measure passed unanimously.

• The council approved several committee appointments at the meeting. Adam Miller and Philip Marquis will remain on the Planning & Zoning Commission, and alternates Gerald Brown and Lauren McClellan were also retained. On the Recreation Advisory Board, Sandy Rubin will keep her seat, and Jordan Schiller was tapped for a vacant seat, with Alyssa Freeman serving as an alternate. On the Education Advisory Board, Lisa Ryan retained her seat, and Jennifer Sullivan was appointed to a regular seat, with Nancy Pannea now serving as an alternate.

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