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City sets priorities

As the city pivots back to in-person meetings post pandemic and a monthly summer schedule, council set priorities.

The city hones down their goals every year, and this time 17 came out of their May strategic planning sessions, said Deputy Mayor Andrea Levine O’Rourke.

“Five priorities we decided to direct staff are our top priority issues for the coming year,” Mayor Scott Singer told Boca Voice.

Among them are a continued hi-tech comeback from the days when IBM was a major employer and invented the PC here. And more emphasis on supporting and growing hi-tech startups.

Citing a Boca tech meetup with little notice that drew 80 people, “companies are leaving for sunnier and lower tax climates. We have a limited window,” Mayor Scott Singer told Boca Voice. “It’s important to be at the leading edge because when some companies lead, others follow.”

The city has an economic development office with a budget.  “These are some of the reasons we [need to] devote significant resources to economic development. We need to seize the moment,” Singer said, adding he is meeting with other elected officials to pursue a regional approach.

An FAU off-campus housing shortage that led to students renting homes in single-family neighborhoods is another priority.  “Does FAU have a student housing problem? Do we have to fix it to solve their problem?” O’Rourke said. She voted against a recent apartment complex near FAU because it required the city to approve hi-density in an area now zoned for single family, she said.

“Why not put this on a workshop,” she said about a goal to plan the 20th Street corridor for student housing that was never acted on.

Other priorities include plans to traverse the Brightline railroad station now about to start construction. “That could mean doing a walkway over the tracks or a tunnel underneath or an overhead bridge,” she said. “We would hope to get grants.”

Among other goals are addressing residents’ pedestrian and bike safety concerns on Palmetto Park Road, particularly the county stretch east of the Intracoastal. “Neighbors are up in arms so that was an automatic priority,” she said.

Council also wants to extend Jeffrey Street that now stops short. And expand and connect the El Rio Trail. “We have wonderful bike trails and they don’t quite finish and connect,” she added.

By Marci Shatzman

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