Ned Barnes, Civic Association President
During the Civic Association Annual Meeting this year, President Ned Barnes presented the organization's yearly report:
I want to thank Mayor Coniglio for her leadership in keeping the bridge open and I want to thank the Town Council, too. This was potentially the most destructive crisis to hit Palm Beach in years, and we’re so glad it all worked out.
I also want to thank Llwyd Ecclestone and Bob Wright and Karen Marcus, and all the members of the Civic Association who played a role in this effort: Our Bridge Committee, Civic Association Directors Wil Matthews, Brian McIver, David Duffy, Burt Manning, Sir Geoffrey Leigh, and Paul Leone. I want to thank the executive committee members who attended the governor’s reception two weeks ago, and all the Civic Association members, business owners, and residents who wrote letters to the governor and the secretary.
Our Communications Director Mike Brown tells me it’s impossible to know how many people actually forwarded our form letters we provided on our web site or emailed letters of their own to the governor and the Secretary of Transportation, but, we do know that more than 4,000 residents viewed the bridge information on our web site and in our weekly email bulletin.
Yesterday, the Civic Association ran an ad in the Shiny Sheet thanking everyone for keeping the bridge open. It said, “This success shows what can be achieved when our community works together.” Thanks to Brian McIver for that wording.
I think it is amazing what we can achieve when we work together in Palm Beach. There are so many exceptional people here with so many different talents and skills and resources. It’s what makes an organization like ours so unique and affective.
In addition to our bridge advisory group we assembled on short notice this month, we have volunteers across the board who are willing to step up for the good of the town.
We have an Executive Committee, chaired by our Chairman Bob Wright that meets every month to review the important issues in Palm Beach and figure out how we can play a role that will be helpful.
We have a group that’s engaged in shore protection issues that follows all the latest developments. People who have done the homework and understand things the Beach Management Agreement, the Woods Hole Report, and the Coastal Management Plan.
This year, our shore group teamed up with the Citizens Association of Palm Beach. We hosted a bus tour of the Town’s beaches and supported the Town’s shore board and the long range shore protection plan.
We have a group of financial experts, led by our treasurer Pat Cooper, who analyzed the Town’s budget this year and supported the Town Manager’s recommendation for a small increase in taxes after years of holding the line.
We have volunteers who work to improve health care in the community. Led by our director Mike Stein and Dr. Richard Conroy, they put on a very successful forum on Obamacare at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church. They gathered a panel of local experts, people in Palm Beach who had actually read and analyzed the Affordable Care Act: Dr. Michael Dennis, Richard Bernstein, Dr. David Dotson, Judy Goodman, and Mark Nosacka.
At the Civic Association, we have volunteers who engage in Palm Beach County issues, people who are concerned because so much of our tax dollar goes beyond our borders and so many of the decisions that affect the Town are made at the County level. Led by Jack Borland, the group weighed in on the County budget this year. They joined the mayor in one-on-one visits with County Commissioners, and worked with our consultant Karen Marcus to find ways to make a greater impact in the future.
At the Civic Association, we have volunteers who have been deeply involved in the redevelopment of Royal Poinciana Way. Led by our director Mary Watkins, they attended every meeting of the Town’s Royal Poinciana Way Committee chaired by Council Member Michael Pucillo. They met separately with Mr. Pucillo and each Town committee member. They held a community forum. They retained the former Town Director of Planning, Building, and Zoning Bob Moore to advise them on the technical issues. They analyzed density and parking and historic preservation. They funded an economic study and issued a statement of strong support for the Planned Unit Development proposal.
At the Civic Association, we have volunteers who help us with membership and marketing. We have a Water Committee, led by our Director Harvey Poppel, a Public Safety Committee, led by Director Alan Miller, a Transportation Committee chaired by Jim Ballentine, a Port and Peanut Island Committee.
Will everyone who chairs a Civic Association committee, and everyone who serves on a Civic Association committee, please stand?
Thank you. We are grateful for all you do.
Last January, after serving on the Palm Beach County Commission for 28 years, our extremely popular and effective County Commissioner Karen Marcus was forced to give up her seat due to newly imposed term limits. All of us were sorry to see Commissioner Marcus go, but, the County Commission’s loss was the Civic Association’s gain.
Since February, Mrs. Marcus has been working as our consultant advising us on Shore Protection, Peanut Island, Port of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Inlet, County taxes and budget, and transportation issues like the Flagler Bridge.
We used to get lost in the halls of County government, but with Karen on board, we now know “where to go” and “who to meet” and “what to say” and even “how to say it.”
Karen, you’ve been an incredible resource for us already. We thank you for all you’re doing and we look forward to getting even more involved in the future.
Finally, this morning, I want to thank Michele Kessler and Bob Wright, and our fund raising Committee, Brian McIver, George Cohon, and Bob Nederlander, for another very successful Awards Program with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski two weeks ago. Many of you were there. We had a great time.
We presented our Bill Brooks Community Service Award to Public Safety Director Kurt Blouin for his outstanding leadership…an honor well deserved.
Our annual fund raiser is very important to us, not just because it’s a good time. It’s important because it gives us the financial resources we need to do our job and make a positive impact in Palm Beach. All the money we receive from you, who so generously supported our event and all of the funds you contribute through your annual membership, help us to play a major role in protecting the quality of life we enjoy.
This morning, I want to thank our staff for the outstanding job they do: Joyce Cohen, our membership director, Mike Brown, our communications director, and Rebecca Malek, our office manager. I want to thank our Director Pat Cooper for his support and encouragement, and his tireless efforts on our behalf,
And I want to thank each of you for supporting the Palm Beach Civic Association. Together, we are making good things happen in Palm Beach. There really is no limit to what we can achieve for our Town.