Palm Beach County hosts 5th annual “Dark Sky” festival Saturday

A photo taken at the Pine Glades Natural Area, west of Jupiter Farms. (Photo: Tania Melendez)
A photo taken at the Pine Glades Natural Area, west of Jupiter Farms. (Photo: Tania Melendez)

The fifth annual Dark Sky Festival is set for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Okeeheelee Nature Center, in Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., one mile west of Jog Road.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is organized by the county’s Environmental Resources Management and Parks & Recreation departments, to “celebrate the night and turn down the lights” by exposing people to astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

The festival will include stargazing with local astronomers, nighttime photography lectures, exhibits, vendors, nature walks, a children’s activity area, food trucks, a campfire and more.

For more, call 561-233-1400 or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Kreusler Park lifeguards will use executive suites

050706-met-lwmayor-2-jpgLifeguards at Palm Beach’s Kreusler Park soon will be changing clothes inside office suites, if Palm Beach County Commissioners OK a lease.

According to a memo for the county commission’s Tuesday’s meeting, the current lifeguards’ office, break room and changing area are in disrepair and no longer meet county standards. The county has been working on a new restroom building with space for the lifeguards, but that’s been delayed while it awaits site plan approval from the Town of Palm Beach. The park is in the town but is operated by the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation 

So in the meantime, the county plans to spend $809 a month to rent space in an executive suites building right next to the park that’s owned by Symphony Workplaces. The deal is through January, with a month-by-month option after that, the memo said.

Groundbreaking July 29 for John Prince Park expansion, dog park

jp1 JP2A groundbreaking for the dog park and expansion at Palm Beach County’s John Prince Park, west of Lake Worth, is set for 9 a.m. Friday, July 29, at the park’s Mound Circle Pavilion.

In March, Palm Beach County Commissioners approved a 1-year $2.1 million project at the pavilion.  New features include the five-bay dog park as well as five gazebos, along with renovations of the existing cricket field and new landscaping and parking.

 

 

Palm Beach County: We closed Peanut Island, then reopened it when algae bloom vanished

Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)
Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)
A man who was hit over the head with a bottle and was cut on his upper arm is helped onto a Palm Beach County Sheriff's boat after he was involved in a fight during Memorial Day weekend at Peanut Island, May 26, 2013. It's not known if the man is Jefferson Guiste (staff photo/Gary Coronado)
 (staff photo/Gary Coronado)

In the immortal movie Jaws, local businesses pressure the mayor and police chief of the fictional Amity Island not to close the beaches on Independence Day weekend, the biggest tourism weekend of the year. Everyone knows how that worked out.

On Friday, a similar dilemma briefly threatened Palm Beach County.

Lifeguards had reported an algae bloom similar to one that already, in much larger volume, had turned Treasure Coast waterways into a green, sticky, stinky mess.

This Palm Beach County bloom wasn’t just anywhere. It was around Peanut Island, the spoil island in the Palm Beach Inlet that every holiday weekend is jammed bikini-bottom-to-bikini-bottom with partiers.

Later on Friday, based on a Florida Department of Environmental Protection recommendation, county Parks and Recreation Director Eric Call made the call to close Peanut Island to swimming for the weekend.

On Friday, just after dusk, DEP people came to take samples and “couldn’t find the bloom,” Rob Robbins, head of Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, said Tuesday. “Looks like the wind shifted it and moved it off.”

On Saturday morning, Robbins said, parks workers came to the spot and couldn’t find the bloom either. So Call reversed himself.

“The no swim advisory has been lifted,” County Administrator Verdenia Baker texted county commissioners around 8:45 a.m. Saturday.

Call said Tuesday this never would have been comparable to the Jaws situation because the closure affected only Peanut Island, not all the county’s beaches. But, he said, while he works closely with tourism officials and area businesses, “we always want to err on the side of caution.”

Palm Beach County Commission set to OK Uber today

020115-UBER-3UPDATE: Clerk Bock has postponed her report.

Palm Beach County is set today to, finally, approve rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations. After spending more than two and a half hours on April 5, the commission approved the package of rules 7-0, on the first of two votes. The companies say the rules are enough to guarantee they will operate safely. But taxi firms say they don’t go far enough to protect the public and give the ride services an unfair advantage.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

Bock: The commission will hear Clerk of Courts Sharon Bock’s annual financial report. Last year, Bock reported that county assets dropped $99.1 million, mostly because the county sold the Mecca Farms property at a $33 million loss and locked into $50 million in new debt over the Max Planck Institute and the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Trespass: A second and final vote on new rules that allow for banning people from county parks and recreational areas for a year or more for various violations.

Housing: Approved its required Local Housing Assistance Plan for the next three years, as required by the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP). The plan’s goals are to preserve and increase the stock of affordable housing.

Bus vs. House: Is set to approve a $51,593 settlement for a West Palm Beach man whose home was damaged in March 2013 when it was struck by a Palm Tran bus.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

 

 

Palm Beach County Commissioners tackle Uber today — again

palm-beach-county-logo020115-UBER-3Grab your app. Uber’s back.

The Palm Beach County Commission once again will tackle the issue of how the app-based ride service and similar ones are regulated, and whether they are getting an unfair advantage over traditional taxis and limos.

 

The biggest aspect of the Uber package commissioners will consider: both Uber-style outfits and taxis would be responsible to either conduct their own background checks or hire the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them. That, and what insurance would be required of drivers in both endeavors, have been sticking points in the debate for going on two years.

The commission might also talk some more about last week’s charge by the county’s inspector general that officials of the Palm Tran Connection cooked their books to improve the on-time record for the bus service for the disabled, elderly and ill.

Other items on the agenda:

Trespass: Would approve new rules that allow for banning people from county parks and recreational areas for a year or more for various violations.Diamond

Donations: Would give Animal Care and Control autonomy to make donation deals with businesses for items in “goodie bags” given to pet adopters.

Sportsman’s Park: Would let Lantana build just two docks instead of three at its waterfront Sportsman’s Park and spend the extra money on seawall and parking lot improvements.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.