Recent Updates:

Good Morning America To Feature Delray

Good Morning Delray Beach

Good Morning Delray Beach

The public is invited to watch the live airing of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) at the Chris Evert-Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic on Sunday, November 23, 2014.  The show will film several live segments from the Delray Beach Tennis Center, 201 West Atlantic Avenue, featuring meteorologist Rob Marciano.

In order to be a part of this special event, with a chance to appear in the show’s audience, the public is asked to arrive at the Tennis Center on Sunday, November 23, at 6:15 am.  Guests who arrive between 6:15 am – 6:45 am will receive one (1) complimentary admission ticket for the tennis matches beginning at 11:00 am later that day.

Have some early morning fun at the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic on Sunday, November 23!  For more information, call (561) 243-7190.

About the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic
The City of Delray Beach is proud to host the 2014 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic, November 21-23.  Tennis legend Chris Evert, in association with Broward Health Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, will be joined by renowned athletes and well known celebrities to support at-risk children and families in Palm Beach County and Florida.  Since 1989, Chris Evert Charities has contributed over $21.2 million in an ongoing campaign against drug abuse and child neglect. 

Exciting events are planned for November 21-23 including the Pro-Am Tennis and Lunch with Chrissie & Friends, Classic Cocktail Reception, Pro-Celebrity Gala presented by Esurance and the weekend Tennis Classic.  To purchase tickets, call (561) 394-2400. For schedule of events and additional information, visit www.chrisevert.org.

 

Who Offers The Best Bite On The Ave?

Tryst Gastropub will be at Crane's to defend its title as Best Bite on the Ave.

Tryst Gastropub will be at Crane’s to defend its title as Best Bite on the Ave.

 

Cathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar, announced that the popular, Key West-style boutique hotel will be hosting its third annual Best Bite on the Ave on Thursday, November 20, from 6 to 8:30 pm.

“This is a win-win-win promotion in which everyone has a good time and savors some tasty food samplings from 10 outstanding restaurants while simultaneously raising much-needed funds for two worthwhile local nonprofit organizations: the HOW Foundation of South Florida, which provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) scholarship funding for wounded warriors and others in need, and Project Holiday, which supports local families who have loved ones serving in the armed forces around the world,” said Balestriere.
“Best of all – admission is only $5 per person, which includes one Best Bite token and five free raffle tickets for a variety of special prizes,” she added.

 

Ten competing restaurants will each set-up serving tables offering a variety of tasty goodies from their menus as they compete for the title of Best Bite on the Ave 2014.
This year’s local culinary competitors will be:
+ Caffe Luna Rosa
+ City Oyster
+ Pizza Rustica
+ Prime (The winner in 2012)
+ Rocky’s Bistro
+ Salt 7
+ Sundy House
+ Sweet’s Sensation
+ 3rd & 3rd
+ Tryst  (The winner in 2013)
Attendees will select the winner by dropping special Best Bite tokens in their favorite restaurant’s token bowl. Everybody will receive one token with their $5 admission and an additional token with every drink purchase (be it alcoholic or not). At the end of the evening, the restaurant that collected the most tokens will be declared Best Bite on the Ave 2014.
The fun and festive event will be held throughout the hotel, around both beach-like swimming pools and the two large Tiki Huts. Live music will be offered throughout the evening, including the Atlantic High School Drum Line and Jazz Band. There will also be an assortment of free desserts that night from It’s Sugar and Two Fat Cookies at Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel, which is located at 82 Gleason Street in Delray Beach, just one block south of Atlantic Avenue and one block west of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Which restaurant will win the coveted title of Best Bite on the Ave 2014,” asks Balestriere. “That will be decided by those who come to Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel on November 20 for the final Third Thursday Fun-Raiser of the year.”
For more information please contact Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel at 561.278.1700 or visit the website at cranesbeachhouse.com.

Weekend Best Bets: Journey & Jazz

The Allan Harris Quartet thrills the Arts Garage this weekend.

The Allan Harris Quartet thrills the Arts Garage this weekend.

Allan Harris Quartet
JAZZ | Sat, 11/15 8PM at the Arts Garage

Allan Harris is unquestionably one of the most versatile talents in contemporary jazz and blues music with his charismatic combination of soulful yet elegant phrasing, exciting musicianship, and dynamic stage presence.
“…probably the most exciting young male singer on the scene.”—Wall Street Journal

Visit www.artsgarage.org for tickets and more information.

Journey Tribute Tonight

My prom shared the same theme song as the final episode of The Sopranos; “Don’t Stop Believing.” (Dave’s prom theme was sung by Rudy Vallee but I digress).
We haven’t stopped believing and that’s why you will see us under the stars tonight at the Pavilion at the Delray Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 to see Odyssey Road, a really good Journey Tribute Band.

How good? Well, when the lights go down in the city you won’t be able to tell the difference between Odyssey and Steve Perry.

You will be Stone in Love and won’t be going your Separate Ways when you enjoy the music with  Open Arms.

If we don’t see you because you are not Feeling That Way that’s Ok, because I’ll be Alright Without You…..we give up, you get the picture and we Faithfully believe you will be there.

 

 

Water Cooler Wednesday: Design & Use

Vibrant, fun and beautiful. Our Delray

Vibrant, fun and beautiful. Our Delray

In the 90s, Delray Beach was making great progress.

The city was successfully completing its “Decade of Excellence”, a $21.5 million bond issue program that beautified downtown, repaired aging infrastructure, fixed streets and drainage and refurbished parks and fire stations.

 Significant public investment was made in the downtown, including a complete reconstruction of the streetscape; the preservation and reuse of Old School Square (an abandoned school) and the renovation of the Municipal Tennis Center including the addition of a tennis stadium built to host a women’s event on what was then called the Virginia Slims tour.

The public investment was the result of an in-depth civic visioning process that unified the city. Back then, there were divides between east and west, black and white, police and residents etc.

Visions 2000 and the resulting Decade of Excellence bond proved the power of civic engagement, visioning and detailed conversations about the direction of our community.

That power was verified when voters overwhelmingly voted to tax themselves and go into debt in order to build a better city. It was also an opportunity for the downtown to be thought as belonging to everyone as it was positioned as a gathering place for the entire community, an amenity for all to enjoy.

When the bond projects were first announced, communities west of I-95–at the time a major voting bloc– balked somewhat because the spending was concentrated on older eastern neighborhoods and the downtown. But by the time it came to vote western residents were convinced that Delray was one community and if a neighborhood had needs it was important for other neighborhoods to show support.

In the late 90s, still hoping to jumpstart downtown, the CRA issued an RFP for Worthing Place, which was slated to be the first major mixed use downtown project.

The project was hugely controversial when a developer team proposed a six story, 90 plus unit per acre project on the site.

The project seemed to divide the city in two; with proponents saying it was needed and opponents saying it would ruin the downtown forever and eventually end up as a tenement type building.

The debate was heated and ugly. When the commission approved the project, a series of lawsuits were filed that took nearly seven years to resolve, with the city winning every case.

But the suits, while legally unsuccessful, delayed the project and the development team missed the hottest real estate market in memory. The terms of RFP also required them to build a public parking garage before they broke ground on the actual project, a huge cost for the developers but a big bonus for the city.

While the project was voted on by a prior commission, the commission’s I served on beginning in 2000 inherited the angst caused by concerns over height, density and development.

So we decided in 2001 to create a Downtown Master Plan and to engage the community in a deep discussion over how our downtown– now defined as spanning from A1A to I-95 with a few blocks north and south of Atlantic Avenue–should look and feel. I co-chaired that effort with a neighborhood leader named Chuck Ridley.

The Downtown Master Plan included discussions about a range of issues including: the viability of downtown retail, the importance of people living downtown, the need for employment beyond food and beverage, the importance of design and the need to expand opportunities west of Swinton. We talked about development without displacement, the need to build a complete and sustainable downtown and the importance of slowing traffic and making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to get around town. The discussion also included the need to buffer neighborhoods and even included race relations and heart felt conversations about workforce housing, historic preservation and creating a community where our kids and grandkids may want to return. It was the single most rewarding experience of my civic life and it culminated in a charrette that attracted a record crowd.

When our partners in the process, the terrific people at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, set up design studios on Swinton Avenue they had to work late into the night because people poured in to share their thoughts and vision for their city.

When the dust cleared and people went home from the charrette, I remember feeling an incredible sense of pride in the process and the level of debate. This was not an “all developers are evil and greedy” exercise nor was it an all people who are concerned “are NIMBY’s who must be bulldozed” process, it was an inclusive, intelligent and rewarding civic bonding experience, the kind of experience you can’t have at any other level of government. It took time, it cost money (although the MacArthur Foundation graciously underwrote much of the cost) but it was worth it.

But before I could reach my car at the conclusion of the charrette, I was stopped by Marcela Camblor, the amazing planner/designer who worked with us as part of the Treasure Coast team. She told me that support for the Master Plan would never be stronger than it was at this moment in time and that with every day that passed; support for the plan would wane.

Now, this was a depressing message to hear and frankly it puzzled me at first. But then I got it. Marcela’s message was you better start implementing and you can never stop educating and talking to the community. Because while almost 500 people showed up for the final meeting, 60,000 stayed home despite our efforts to get them to participate.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that as our commission votes on new Land Development Regulations beginning next week; I think we missed an opportunity to have another conversation.

The Mayor did a wonderful job of bringing thought leaders to Delray as part of a speaker series, but too few people attended and I’m not sure based on my reading of the proposed changes that we are taking the advice of the experts we brought here (just my opinion; I am not a planner).

The lessons from the Master Plan that we took away was that density did not matter as much as design; and to prove the point our consultants showed us pictures of ugly low density projects and beautiful high density projects and vice versa.

I think what matters most is good design, which admittedly is hard to codify, define and regulate. I remember catching hell from residents on projects that I liked and scratching my head at some others that people found appealing but I thought were ugly or generic.

We tried to install Design Guidelines and had to change them when architects and developers told us they were simply unworkable. Still, I think a form based code that does not get hung up on numbers, setbacks, floor area ration etc. etc. may be what we need. Perhaps, we can create a design studio like other cities have done where architects and developers can take their projects for some early feedback and advice on local sensitivities and desires.

I read the proposed changes to the LDR’s and it feels prescriptive to me; part form based and part old school zoning and I wonder if it will truly address what people are concerned about.

My read is that people are concerned about traffic, design and use; i.e. too many apartments, chain stores, cookie cutter architecture and overbuilding of what can be financed instead of what is needed or desired—like office space (creative not just class A).

I could be wrong about the proposed changes and I hope I am. But I’m proud of that master plan and what it brought to our town in terms of investment and quality of life.

 We have a vibrant downtown, full of energy and people and that didn’t happen by accident, it happened as a result of a smart plan, good codes, great developers, citizen input, vision and political leadership that engaged, educated and defended the vision. I also think city staff should be given lots of credit as well.

We are not a perfect city by any stretch and we are not done either. There is so much left to do. But I’m not convinced that Delray needs radical surgery, nor do I think we should argue over numbers or six feet in height. I do think we ought to look at our performance standards to encourage uses that we need and take another whack at better design.

Good plans are meant to be flexible and change with the times so I don’t come at this issue saying the master plan should be sacrosanct. Much of it was accomplished and I think we have a better city as a result. But I do have a sense that we skipped an important step—i.e. engaging the community in an intelligent conversation about where we want to go from here.

Some want to stop or slow things down and that point of view should be respected. Others want more of what we have and feel we are on the precipice of attaining some things we have long desired—including opportunities beyond food and beverage.

But we need a plan to attract and retain artists and we clearly don’t have enough office space to house the entrepreneurs who are attracted to our community.

I’m not sure we soothe fears or improve uses or design through numbers and setbacks. Just my opinion. I do know that we can make a dent through dialogue and visioning. We have done it before, with spectacular results. We should consider doing it again.

 

 

Brighten a Soldier’s Life: Project Holiday Begins Today

Project Holiday kicks off its 9th year today.

Project Holiday kicks off its 9th year today.

In an effort to support deployed US military members during the holiday season, the City of Delray Beach, “You Are Not Alone and “One Soldier at a Time” have come together to support the 9th Annual Project Holiday.

This important Project collects and ships desperately needed items to our military who will not be able to come home for the holidays. The community is encouraged to experience the true spirit of the holiday by contributing to this worthy cause.  Donated items will be accepted at various locations throughout the City and at several locations in Boca Raton from November 10, 2014 through December 5, 2014.

 

Examples of needed items are: (travel size preferred): Thermoguard pads (heating pads), holiday decorations (all faiths), bags of hard, individually wrapped candy (i.e., lifesavers, dollar store hard candy – please no chocolates except for tootsie rolls, tootsie roll pops, charm pops, etc.), snacks that can easily be put in their pockets while on duty (i.e., fruit cups, peanut butter crackers, etc.), gum, beef jerky, Slim Jim, pepperoni or similar dried meats, boxes of granola bars or similar, individual bags of nuts, dried fruit, trail mix or sunflower seeds, boxed and/or individual drink packets (i.e., Crystal Light, Wal-Mart or Target brand, Kool-Aid, hot chocolate, etc.), non-perishable food items, foil packed tuna and chicken, crackers, sun block, lip balm, baby wipes (no bigger than 2½” wide packages), Purell hand sanitizer, hand lotion, batteries (i.e., AA or AAA), foot powder, deodorant, toothpaste, socks (e.g., white or black knee-hi), used CD’s, DVD’s (no VHS tapes or cassettes), letters, notes, holiday cards and encouragement cards.

 

Beginning November 10, drop off boxes will be at the following locations:

DELRAY BEACH:

Delray Beach City Hall, 100 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach
Delray Beach Tennis Center, 201 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach
Delray Beach Community Center, 50 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach
Delray Beach Municipal Golf Course, 2200 Highland Avenue, Delray Beach
Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, 140 NE 1st Street, Delray Beach
Delray Beach Public Library, 100 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach

 

BOCA RATON & OTHER AREA LOCATIONS:

Skin Apeel, 21301 Powerline Road, Boca Raton
Total Car Appearance Center, 4501 Oak Circle, Boca Raton
Applications by Design, Inc (ABDI), 22037 State Road 7, Boca Raton

Stacy & Mom Doggie Divas, LLC, 3944 Florida Blvd, Suite 101, Palm Beach Gardens

 

Monetary donations to cover postage and to purchase calling cards are also appreciated. Please mail checks and/or money orders made payable to Project Holiday/One Soldier at a Time to: City of Delray Beach, c/o Delores Rangel, 100 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444.

 

Items will be packed for shipment on Sunday, December 7 at the Delray Beach Community Center, 50 NW 1st Avenue.   If you are a City resident of Delray Beach or Boca Raton with a family member serving overseas and would like a package sent and/or would like to volunteer to assist in packing boxes to be shipped, contact Delores Rangel at (561) 243-7010.

 

For information on drop off locations in Delray Beach, contact Delores Rangel by phone (561) 243-7010 or E-mail rangel@mydelraybeach.com. For information on Boca Raton drop off locations, contact Marla Birman by phone (561) 212-4914 or E-mail marlabirman1@gmail.com.  Information on Project Holiday can also be found on the City’s website, www.mydelraybeach.com.

 

“You Are Not Alone” (YANA) is a local group sponsored by the City of Delray Beach that provides encouragement and emotional support to family members and friends of our soldiers.  “One Soldier at a Time” is a project that supports our deployed military with care packages and words of encouragement.

Water Cooler Wednesday (A Day Early)

Sean Moore provides solid advice for parents

Sean Moore provides solid advice for parents

COLLEGE EDUCATION NOW AFFORDABLE AS

REGISTRATION BEGINS FOR RE-STRUCTURED FLORIDA PRE-PAID PLAN

By Sean Moore, President of SMART College Funding, Boca Raton

 

As parents, there’s no question we get sweaty palms and suffer anxiety when thinking about financial obligations. And, there is perhaps no greater stress point than trying to figure out how to pay for our children’s college education.

 

In June, our legislators recognized this by revamping the Florida Pre-Paid College plan, rolling back costs to the lowest levels since 2007. With the enrollment period starting this month and continuing until February 2015, parents should re-consider this plan which suddenly makes financial sense. The new plan has basically cut the cost of a college education at Florida state universities by approximately 50 percent.

 

In short, the new law reduced the cost of a newborn plan by more than $26,000 for  4-year tuitions plan, and dropped monthly payment plans to less than $180, down from $350 last year.  In addition, nearly $200 million will be returned to current plan owners, thereby guaranteeing that no current plan owner will pay more than the reduced costs.

 

The dramatic reduction is tied directly to the new law created by House Bill 851, which also caps annual increases to six percent for “preeminent” state universities and zero percent for other state universities. Previously, the tuition increase could increase by up to 15 percent annually.

The new bill also has created flexibility.  Families will have the opportunity to purchase a 4-year Florida University Plan for as low as $173 a month and a 2 + 2 Florida Plan (2 years at a community college/2 years at a university) for as low as $136 a month.

There is a new 1-Year Florida University Plan which allows families to purchase up to four years at a state university in one- year increments as their budgets afford them. This starts as low as $43 per month.

Some say this was strictly a political move with elections on the horizon. Regardless of the motivation, families should take a close look at this plan which suddenly makes a college education much more affordable.

 

The worldwide financial crisis starting in 2007, resulted in the legislature lifting a cap on plan costs.  In a span of one two-year period, the cost of the plan nearly doubled. Last year the cost reached $53,729.20 (for 4 years at a university) for a newborn, almost 4 times the cost of the same plan in 2007! At those price points, the plan just didn’t make financial sense. Today, it does.

 

The motivation of our politicians is irrelevant. What is relevant is that they have suddenly made what once seemed unaffordable well within the reach of many. We can now provide this education without plunging ourselves or our children into deep debt with college loans.

 

Sean Moore is president of Boca Raton-based SMART College Funding, a firm which helps families reduce college expenses. For more information, visit www.Smart4college.com.

 

 

 

Pre-Election Day Thoughts

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After a record $4 billion of ad spending, Americans head to the polls tomorrow to elect everybody from County Commissioners and School Board members to Senators and Governors.

If the polls are correct—and I suspect they are—it’s going to be a good day for Republicans from Alaska to Arkansas. But those same polls also show deep dissatisfaction with both political parties and the general direction of this country. American voters are unhappy with their government and their elected leaders, with rare exceptions.

There seems to be something inherently wrong with our politics and we seem to be attracting something far less than our best and brightest to public service.

Government—at all levels—has been demonized and often with good reason due to waste, fraud, corruption, abuse and incompetence. But we’ve also been told that government is our problem and no longer is the source of solutions and that is a dangerous belief system, because it tends to be self-fulfilling.

The truth is, we need government, limited, effective, fiscally responsible and competent to deal with common problems and opportunities and we don’t seem to be getting it.

As a result, problems ranging from infrastructure neglect and terrorism to climate change and immigration reform go untended. Unfortunately, problems that are neglected don’t tend to disappear, they tend to fester and get worse.

Somehow, someway, we have to find a way to work together again and get things done. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will inherit a range of deep seated problems and future generations will look back at us and wonder—what were they thinking?

I believe that solutions begin with finding capable leaders who have an ability to engage those who they represent.

But after a barrage of negative TV advertising that was long on the “other candidate is horrible” and short on any ideas, I’m certain we are not going to get that leadership when the polls close tomorrow.

I will vote—as I always do—but like others I almost can’t believe the paucity of choices on the ballot.

This less than inspiring slate—which seems to be a nationwide malady—ought to be a powerful wake up call for voters. We need to do better. Better candidates, better campaigns, better ideas, better debates and better coverage of races so voters can get beyond the horse race and really understand what solutions or ideas candidates bring to the table.

Years ago, I stumbled on a quote in a magazine about a candidate running for Mayor in a small Maine town. She said that holding office “was a job to do, not a job to have.”

I clipped that quote and carried it with me during my seven years as a local elected official to remind me that my responsibility was not to take the easy or politically expedient path, but to do what I felt was right. Like everyone else, you find that sometimes you stumble. But for me that quote was a guidepost, a reminder that politics was an opportunity to make change, solve problems, involve people and try to ensure a future for others. The commission’s I served on called it moving ‘the big rocks’.

Too many politicians think of service as a career and are afraid to actually do the job. They play dodge ball with the issues delaying the inevitable and leaving problems for future generations to deal with.

We deserve better.

Great leaders are hard to find. But we better start trying.

Every day I interact with smart, visionary people, most of whom would never consider running for office because they see politics as dirty and inconsequential. It needs to be viewed differently; recast as public service and transformational.

I think the voters are hungry for good leadership and vision. I think they would welcome bold ideas, honesty and being treated like adults.

Just my hunch.

Weekend Best Bets: Happy Halloween

Saxophonist Lew Tabackin visits the Arts Garage this weekend.

Saxophonist Lew Tabackin visits the Arts Garage this weekend.

Happy Halloween

Three cheers to the City of Boca Raton which has created an amazing website to help you plan your Halloween weekend. Visit  http://bocaboodays.com/ and we promise you will not be disappointed. It’s truly something to see. P.S. Click on the light bulb.

 

Lazy Bonez

 When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

Who: Lazy Bonez

Where: Outdoor Pavilion, Delray Center for the Arts

 Formed in September 2011, Lazy Bonez recreates the 80′s Rock concert experience with high energy performances featuring the songs of such legendary bands as Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC, and so many more! Rather than emulating one single band, Lazy Bonez choses to celebrate the entire genre of 80′s Rock and has been hard at work traveling and performing clubs, festivals, and corporate events to rave reviews.

P.S. Dave was in a hair band during that era, a little known fact.

 

Rain or shine; bring your blankets and chairs, and bring the family… but PLEASE, no pets or outside food or beverages. Food trucks and cash bar available.

 

 

Lew Tabackin

JAZZ | Sat, 11/1  8pm

 

Lew’s distinctive tenor sax style includes the use of wide intervals, abrupt changes of mood and tempo, and purposeful fervor, all in the service of showing the full range of possibilities of his instrument. His music “is a masterpiece of melodic invention, one motive neatly unfolding into the next, telling a story filled with wisdom” —Saxophone Journal.

We couldn’t have said it better.

Have a safe weekend

 

 

Water Cooler Wednesday: A Legacy of Leadership

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Tom Lynch’s assistant Paula Post asking if I would be interested in being part of a tribute video for Tom being produced on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber honored Tom last week with a much deserved “Lifetime Achievement Award” and the Red Pepper Group was tasked with recording a video that would try and capture Tom’s influence and contributions to Delray Beach.

I was honored and jumped at the chance to join Tom’s sons Brendan and Connor and Business Development Board CEO Kelly Smallridge on the video.

But then panic set in.

How can you sum up, in two minutes or less, Tom’s profound influence on the development and creation of modern Delray Beach? After all, if not for Tom, I’m not so we’d have a website devoted to Delray, because Atlantic Avenue and Delray Beach was a far different place when he became the founding chair of the CRA in 1985 and mayor of Delray in 1990.

Sure, there are many authors to the Delray success story, people we have mentioned on this blog who have done great things in areas ranging from the arts and business to government and philanthropy, but few who have left his lasting imprint.

Real Leadership Lasts

The real question then was why? Why was Tom Lynch–who served as mayor for three terms then went on to the School Board for 8 years before becoming mayor of the tiny Village of Golf –so important to modern Delray?

After all, he has been gone from office for 18 years, a lifetime in local politics and yet, smart politicians, entrepreneurs, economic development experts and others still seek him out for advice even if they have to search for him in Biltmore Forest N.C., where he spends a lot of time these days.

The answer, in my opinion, was because Tom stood for and implemented ideas and principles that set the stage for much of the success that Delray has achieved since he served on Mayor Doak Campbell’s Atlantic Avenue Task Force 30 years ago.

Sure he accomplished a lot of concrete things during his active years in Delray Beach. Among them:

•             Successful implementation of the pivotal Decade of Excellence Bond which beautified Atlantic Avenue among other important projects.

•             The decision to build a tennis stadium downtown to attract the Virginia Slims to Delray. While the Slims didn’t last, the Stadium did; eventually attracting an ATP event, major junior events, the Champions Tour, Fed Cup and Davis Cup. The decision to build downtown was an important branding decision for Delray giving the city international publicity and attracting people to Delray at a time when crowds were not the norm.

•             Successfully launching the CRA, which has become a major economic development tool for the city ushering in millions and millions in private sector investment.

•             Winning the first of Delray’s two All America City Awards in 1993, a major recognition of the city’s progress. A year later, Florida Trend Magazine named Delray the best run town in Florida.

And there were more accomplishments, but while important, over time people forget who did what and Tom was never the type to seek credit anyway.

 But what lasts are values and principles and that’s the “secret sauce” that separates a Tom Lynch from others who hold titles such as mayor. People come and go in these positions, but values and principles tend to last and if you stray as a community they can serve as guideposts to get back to where you need to be.

So what were those values and principles that Tom championed before, during and after he left office.

•             Delray should come first, before personal agendas and egos.

•             The job of an elected official is to do the right thing regardless of short term political considerations. Don’t kick the can down the road, think long term and have the courage to act.

•             Appointments to city advisory boards are important, take the time to put the right people in the right spots because they provide the commission with the advice they need to make decisions. Don’t reward friends or political cronies; look for people who have the skill sets to add value. P.S. if they perform they can become your future leaders.

•             City Commission is not an entry level position, it’s important for candidates to have experience in this community before you entrust them with the public’s purse and important decisions. Do they work well with others? Are they single issue candidates? Do they do their homework? Are they willing to make tough decisions or do they just want to cut ribbons and ride in parades? Tom taught us to ask those questions and more.

•             Government can run like a business by being responsive to customers, entrepreneurial, efficient and fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. Like businesses, cities should make investments that yield returns, such as in the arts, sports and culture.

•             Government should not impose answers but act as a facilitator to assist  businesses and or resolve disputes and issues between neighbors.

And there are more, many more values and principles that Tom’s leadership epitomized.

So that’s what I thought of when I walked into the Red Pepper Group’s studios and tried to give my two-minute testimonial.

Times Have Changed

When I moved here as a 22 year-old reporter in 1987, Delray was a far different place. There were few restaurants, virtually no nightlife, lots of vacancies on Atlantic Ave and a tremendous amount of crime and drug dealing. The politics were divisive and City Hall was suffering from instability and turnover. By the time Tom left the mayor’s office in 1996, Delray was well on the way but still had a long way to go. That’s the other lesson he and others imparted: cities are never done; they are always works in progress. But Tom’s under stated but strong leadership gave Delray its confidence back, we were a community that worked together, that acknowledged its problems and were willing to try innovative strategies to find solutions. We were no longer Dull Ray, the poor neighbor of Boca where nobody wanted to be, but a town on the rise that believed in itself.

That’s what great leadership does, it engages, unites and excites stakeholders and leave you with hope for a better tomorrow. And so it was. Great leaders touch people and leave a mark.  They make us think about what we can become and they lead the way despite the obstacles. Tom Lynch’s brand of leadership continues to pay dividends.

 

Chamber Gala Recognizes Business Excellence

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

The Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted a packed gala Saturday night at the Marriott and recognized several business leaders for their contributions to the local economy.

Former Delray Beach Mayor Tom Lynch received a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his 45 years of service to Delray and Palm Beach County.

Lynch moved to Florida in 1969 and has served as a leader in the insurance industry for 40 years. As President of Plastridge Insurance, a company originally established in 1919, Lynch has spearheaded the company’s growth and expanded its reach with offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart. As Mayor of Delray Beach in the early 1990′s Lynch played a key leadership role during a time of growth and positive change in Delray Beach. Lynch has held leadership roles in numerous non-profit organizations.

“Tom Lynch’s bio is staggering,” says Karen Granger, President and CEO of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve never known anyone who has served the community in such a variety of capacities and continues to stay right on the pulse of business, education and a wide variety of issues.”

Here’s a look at the complete list of winners:

2014 Business Person of the Year

Tim Young

Delray Motors

 

2014 Business of the Year

Delray Honda

 

2014 Non-Profit Organization of the Year

C.R.O.S. Ministries

2014 Delray Beach & Beyond Corporate Reach Award

21 Drops

 

2014 New Business of the Year

Woo Creative

 

2014 Retailer of the Year

PeterMark Salon

 

2014 Restaurant of the Year

Caffe Luna Rosa

 

2014 Ken Ellingsworth Community Service Award

Tiffany Peterson