Civic Association Accomplishes Its Goals
[Please Note: Links are provided to webpages and photos about our activities]
The Palm Beach Civic Association achieved success during the 2011-2012 season by accomplishing goals in six major areas.
The association tackled important issues in the Town of Palm Beach, achieved higher visibility in Palm Beach County matters, found new ways to generate productive community dialogue, got its directors and members more involved, and increased both its fundraising and membership.
Expanded Presence in Palm Beach
Key areas of Civic Association concentration in Palm Beach were police and fire-rescue, the commercialization of Peanut Island, and the Royal Poinciana Way overlay district.
The Tax and Finance Committee took a leadership role to analyze police and fire-rescue pensions, attending public meetings and supporting the town’s proposal for pension reform. The effort assures financial stability for the town and taxpayers for years to come.
An exhaustive study of the police and fire-rescue departments by Pat Cooper required meetings with the town manager, director of public safety and other town staff. The study to be released soon analyzes the town’s efforts to keep Palm Beach safe and with state-of-the-art emergency medicine, while being fiscally responsible.
The Civic Association launched an aggressive campaign to stop Peanut Island development, working with the mayor to represent residents’ concerns. The association hired an attorney, spoke out at a code enforcement hearing and called upon county commissioners and Port of Palm Beach officials to prevent the island’s commercialization. Association directors continue working behind the scenes for a more positive relationship with port officials.
The association talked with experts and studied the Royal Poinciana Way overlay district thoroughly before drafting a position paper and taking a stand at town council meetings that expressed concern but also encouraged redevelopment.
Higher Visibility in Palm Beach County
Aware that 83 cents out of every tax dollar collected in Palm Beach go outside the town, the Civic Association questioned the cost of county government on Palm Beach’s behalf.
The association helped fund and produce a Florida Tax Watch study of the county budget and members attended all meetings of the mayor’s County Budget Taskforce.
Letters-to-the-Editor were written to the Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News to oppose increased taxes.
An email campaign was directed to county commissioners that resulted in thousands of emails going to the commissioners opposing a tax increase.
The association also created a committee of directors to explore other ways to have a voice outside Palm Beach to question where our tax dollars go, meeting with elected leaders and officials including the mayor, Judy Goodman, and Fred Schiebl of the Taxpayers Action Board.
To achieve a higher visibility in Palm Beach County, association members also met with other community organizations to identify areas of common concern. One initiative was a joint effort with West Palm Beach residents to oppose a proposed road project through the water catchment area that supplies water to Palm Beach.
The association also weighed in on county commission redistricting by publishing a letter in the Palm Beach Post.
Productive Community Dialogue
To generate dialogue, the Civic Association sponsored a wide array of symposiums and expanded its website to educate residents on important town issues. Speakers from the town at the public symposiums included:
County speakers included Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.
The website doubled its number of visits from the previous year because of improvements. The Elections webpage generated 60,084 views in August 2011 alone and that content was picked up by the Palm Beach Daily News.
New website features include:
- Polling on important issues
- Online membership payment
- “Read All About It” blog
- A web cam was placed on top of the Biltmore to view construction of the new Publix. Now it focuses on the Flagler Memorial Bridge to view construction and traffic backups there.
A freelance writer was hired to produce feature news stories on subjects such as water conservation, bridge construction, traffic congestion, and other important town issues.
Mayor Coniglio delivered her “State of the Town” address before Civic Association’s Annual Meeting at the Flagler Museum, where local heroes received awards from the Raymond Kunkel Awards Foundation.
Directors and Members More Involved
To be more effective, the Civic Association created many programs, committees and other initiatives for volunteer participation.
The Transportation Committee, chaired by Jim Ballentine, addressed significant traffic problems, meeting with bridge contractors, Department of Transportation representatives, and police and public works employees to minimize the hardship for Palm Beach residents.
The Water Committee chaired by Harvey L. Poppel coordinated with the mayor, town staff and local experts to champion advanced irrigation as the best means to conserve water.
The Health Care Committee chaired by Mike Stein and Dr. Richard Conroy built relationships with area medical institutions and worked with the town’s fire-rescue department on a drive to save lives by placing automatic external defibrillators in every Palm Beach home and business.
Directors took part in two successful luncheon programs at Northern Trust Bank with Town Council Member Michael Pucillo and Port of Palm Beach Chairman Wayne Richards. Other meetings on important matters were held for directors with:
- U.S. Rep. Alan West
- Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater
- Representatives for the police union
- Testa’s restaurant.
Two directors, Nancy Brinker and Bob Vila, spoke to the public at successful “Meet the Directors” luncheons to generate interest in the Civic Association.
A “Welcome Home” reception for directors, members and corporate sponsors in the Paramount courtyard was well attended.
The March 5 Annual Awards Event with Tom Brokaw raised more than twice the money collected at last year’s fundraising event.
The association also raised significant additional revenue by recruiting businesses to underwrite events and advertise on the association’s website, in weekly emails and with other publicity efforts.
Contributions from directors and members totaled 99 percent of budget projections.
The Civic Association developed an innovative strategy to boost membership. The strategy proved to be successful, increasing membership totals that surpassed the previous two years.
Corporate sponsorship totals also surpassed the previous two years.