RPB Village Council Recognizes PBSO Deputy Of The Year

Deputy of the Year — (L-R) Councilman Richard Valuntas, Vice Mayor Selena Samios, Deputy of the Year Alberto Rivas, Mayor Fred Pinto, PBSO Capt. Ulrich Naujoks, Councilwoman Jan Rodusky and Councilman Jeff Hmara. Photo courtesy the Village of Royal Palm Beach

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council began its first meeting of 2023 on Thursday, Jan. 19 by taking a moment to celebrate local Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Alberto Rivas.

Rivas was chosen as the Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year for 2022 out of the entire PBSO force in Palm Beach County, not just District 9 in Royal Palm Beach.

“We have a tremendous opportunity this evening to recognize an outstanding deputy for the PBSO. This is a deputy who is part of the team that patrols and protects us here in Royal Palm Beach. We are so excited and elated that he has been chosen as the Deputy of the Year,” Mayor Fred Pinto said.

Pinto said that he is proud of the partnership between the village and the PBSO since the merger of the village’s independent police department with the PBSO in 2006.

“We made a very smart and an important decision here in the village, to have the sheriff’s office come in under a contractual arrangement,” Pinto said. “They have been part of the fabric of our community ever since. They operate as if they were, in fact, the village police force. They have worked hard to make the village a very safe place to live. That is our No. 1 priority.”

In other business:

• While village staff and the Planning & Zoning Commission did not recommend approval for a pool variance application, the council was open to hearing from homeowner Armando Presti of Whitcombe Drive about his request to install a therapeutic pool without the required rear setback of eight feet.

“We have in the past granted a variance of this nature in the same subdivision. [The pool] is maintaining a safe three-foot walking path for the rear of the property, which is important,” Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said.

Two years ago, Presti was involved in an eight-car pile-up on the turnpike, which resulted in broken ribs and damage to his spine. He also provided a letter from the doctor who performed surgery for Presti in December.

“I have severe neuropathy. At the pool in my development, you are not allowed to bring a physical trainer. The aquatic wellness facility in Boynton Beach does not accept my insurance,” said Presti, who explained that the next closest facility is located in Vero Beach. “This would be a need for a lifetime. This is not any kind of fashion statement. I really need this to move forward with my health and well-being.”

The pool is strictly a therapy pool, 37 feet long with a gradual slope from three feet to four feet, six inches.

Pinto acknowledged that the request was driven by a medical need, and the council agreed, approving the request unanimously.

• Public art was back on the agenda with two different projects — a revisiting of the photo collage pieces for the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center, and the introduction of a new stainless-steel sculpture called “Transcendence.”

The council approved the acquisition of a framed time-lapse photograph titled “We The People” and an original commissioned piece for a total cost of $25,000 for the Cultural Center.

When asked why this particular artist caught RPB Public Art Professional Mario Lopez Pisani’s interest, he didn’t hesitate.

“I like his sense of community, basically giving you all walks of life. It’s an unbiased and good way of including everyone,” Lopez Pisani said.

When asked about a timeline, he said that the artist hopes to visit in February or March due to the favorable weather. “It is a good time to be outside,” he said. “That would be the next thing, arranging the artist to come.”

The other sculpture is by artist Robert Fehre and will be in front of the Aldi Warehouse on North State Road 7. Michael Lanford, representing R.P. Logistics LLC, was pleased with the recommendation to seek out a local artist for the project.

“I went on to the cultural web site for Palm Beach and saw that sculpture at the Norton [Museum of Art], which caught my eye,” Lanford said. “We seem to have the same thought, and to his benefit he has worked so hard. It has been a pleasure working with him. As a developer, I thought, ‘public art… what?’ I’ve changed. I’m looking forward to getting this thing up.”

The welded structure will go through the proper permitting process to ensure it is hurricane safe. Both public art projects were approved unanimously.

• The second reading and adoption of Urban Design Studios’ request for the rezoning of 10 tracts of land in the Tuttle Royale project from general commercial (CG) to mixed-use social center (MXS) was approved unanimously.

• Resident Paula Wilson was appointed to an alternate seat on the Education Advisory Board. The position expires in March 2024.