Things We Loved in September

Paul Simon: Still crazy (and now retired from touring) after all these years.

September loves

Seeing Paul Simon’s farewell tour at the BB&T.

Artists like Paul Simon are rare…poets, musicians, whose words and music define our culture and leave an indelible mark. We felt privileged to be there. He played all the classics and some of the new gems too.

Happy hour at Senor Burrito and running into the wonderful Trish Jacobson.

Boca Lead’s new season with the amazing Pastor Mitchell. The topic: “Difficult Conversations” in front of a record crowd. Amazing program. Check it out. I’m beginning October by having lunch with the Pastor and another one of my favorites: Karen Granger.

Seeing the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary and Juliet, Naked at Cinemark Boca.

Meeting the wonderful team at 4 Kids a great job-profit that’s coming to Delray. They already serve our kids now they will have a physical presence at The Arbors in Delray.

Lunch and laughter at Papas Tapas  with Ingrid Kennemer and Scott Porten. Very few know the Delray commercial real estate market as well as Ingrid.

The start of a new NFL season at Duffy’s with my best bud Scott Savodnik and Jason Spaide.

Seeing all of the Delray ATP stars excel at the US open. Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro (finalist), Kei Nishikori, one Bryan Brother and Frances Tiafoe all had great opens.
But the highlight was Delray’s own Coco Gauff winning the girls doubles title with Catherine McNally.

Breakfast at Boca’s venerable Tom Sawyer with a long time friend Sharon Patterson.

Lunch with some Delray greats at Cabana El Rey…

Viewing the “sizzle” reel for a new TV show featuring my friend Eric Roby, former Channel 12 anchor. Stay tuned, I think Eric’s got a winner.

Eating lunch at the bar of Madison’s in Boca. Great all day happy hour menu check it out.

David Byrne at the Fillmore. Wonderful show. Unique artist. While in South Beach check out Cibo and if you can make it a weekend we recommend a stay at the Marriott Stanton.

Sardinia Ristorante is a gem. Fresh mozzarella, a great bar, attentive service and unique food. A great addition.

The Abe and Louie Salad—hard to beat.

Jessica Del Vecchio, Boca’s economic development director is a great asset for her city. It’s a pleasure to partner with her as part of the Boca Newspaper.

Have a wonderful October!

Greetings From Asbury Park

The boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J.

I’ve always wanted to go to Asbury Park.

So last week we made the trip.

We loved it.

As we toured Belmar, Ocean Grove, Asbury, Allenhurst, Freehold, Neptune and Colts Neck one thought was top of mind: New Jersey might have the world’s worst PR, because the reality far, far, far outstrips the perception.

New Jersey is breathtakingly beautiful (that’s right)  with a magnificent coast, incredible neighborhoods, vibrant cities and architecture that makes you pull over and stare.

Asbury Park has always held a place in my heart and  imagination thanks to its association with my musical heroes Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

I’ve read a few books about the boom and bust history of Asbury Park and the musicians who helped to put the place on the map.

So I was curious to explore the tiny (1.5 square miles) city.

Asbury has a pretty boardwalk, a beautiful beach, some amazing seaside bars, wonderful architecture, a hip hotel, a really nice downtown and some terrific restaurants.

But what sets it apart is its vibe.

Asbury Park is a town that seems to be built on rock n’ roll.

From rock photographer Danny Clinch’s “Transparent Gallery” and the Sound Booth lounge at the Asbury Hotel to the live music at Asbury Lanes and the renowned Wonder Bar—music is everywhere.

This weekend, Asbury expects 20,000 people for the first Sea. Hear. Now. music festival with big names like Social Distortion and Brandi Carlile coming to town to rock the shore.

Asbury is a town building on its roots—its glory days as evidenced by the Paramount Theatre and a grand boardwalk and a musical heritage which includes Springsteen, Southside Johnny and so many great bar bands.

Off the boardwalk, we found a nice downtown, especially Cookman Avenue which featured some interesting retail (a bookstore!, an adorable cinema and a tea house featuring cats—yes cats—called Catsbury Park) and some amazing restaurants. (If you visit, run don’t walk to Taka, it’s as good as it gets).

The surrounding towns feature block after block of really beautiful homes, Victorian gems that make you realize that Florida missed a golden opportunity by allowing so much cookie cutter housing to be built.

When visiting a place it’s important to consider its history and to see what’s in front of you. But it’s also important to understand its psychology, what drives a place. It’s critical to understand not only the reality but what the aspirations of a place are.

You can do this by observing who’s in town—what kinds of people do you see buying homes, opening businesses and investing in a place.

You can supplement what you see with a little reading—local newspapers, real estate publications, even what the hotels are saying about the town in their marketing materials.

And that’s where Asbury gets really interesting.

This little city with a rich history and a very cool present has aspirations.

Asbury is an ambitious place with a goal of becoming a nationally renowned cultural mecca built around music, art, festivals, great restaurants and a sense of place. Sound familiar?

The local press celebrates this ambition with profiles of entrepreneurs building web businesses, opening bakeries, planning music festivals, opening unique restaurants and creating boutique accommodations that pay homage to the area’s history and vibe.

One of the urban pioneers that seems to loom large is famed rock photographer Danny Clinch who has a very cool gallery attached to the ultra-hip Asbury Hotel. Clinch is arguably the most acclaimed music photographer around these days. He has chosen Asbury Park to not only show off his incredible portfolio but also to grow the city’s cultural brand.

The Sea. Hear. Now. festival is probably the most ambitious attempt so far. But the gallery itself is more than just a gallery. It’s a live music space where the local creative community can meet, grow and find encouragement and an outlet.

In many ways, I saw some parallels between Asbury Park and Delray Beach circa 1980s through early 2000s.

The emphasis on culture, food, beverage, festivals, tourism, entrepreneurship. The aspiration and hunger to fix and invest in neighborhoods and commercial districts. The willingness to take some risks. The presence of visionary pioneers with dreams and ambitions. The passion to make something happen.

I can’t comment on the politics of Asbury. But the truth is you need both the private sector and the public sector rowing in the same direction to make change and realize ambitions. It doesn’t work if volunteers, business owners and residents are out of step with local government or vice versa.

Towns need their Danny Clinch’s for sure. But they also need their elected officials and city government’s help too.

 

 

 

 

Homeward Bound

Beautiful Port Jefferson, N.Y.

This is a hyperlocal blog focused primarily on Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
But we also focus on cities, leadership, entrepreneurship and the general notion of community; what it means and how to build it.

So in the spirit of exploration I wanted to share with you some thoughts after a recent and all too brief trip “home” to the Port Jefferson/Setauket/Stony Brook area.
It’s where I grew up on eastern Long Island after being born and spending a few years in Queens.

It’s a beautiful area, magical in so many ways.

The older areas are truly historic with buildings dating to the late 1690s and early 1700s.
The area played a key role in the Revolutionary War with George Washington’s Setauket spies doing important work to defeat the British. Those days were recently depicted in a TV series and information about the spy ring is written on plaques and available on apps that give an oral history of the area.

We never lived in the historic parts of these towns, although we appreciated the older homes, wooded environments and colonial architecture.

My family and most of my friends lived in Levitt Homes, tract housing developed by the builder who invented suburbia after World War II.

Today, those homes are 50 years old plus and when I drove to see  a few of our old house (we moved around a lot) I could see the age on what was once so new. I enjoyed seeing the mature trees and for the most part the Levitt “sections” –as they were called— have held up well.

They are lovely in their own way and each street is filled with memories of community back when neighbors knew each other and when kids played outside until dark.

It was a magical time and we lived in a magical place. And as I shared with a best friend who grew up there with me, I’m grateful for the time spent here and saddened by the time that has passed.
I’m not sure when I will come back to Stony Brook. But I’m pretty sure that I will.

I feel very connected to the place.

It is and will always be home. The place where I went to school, where I lived with my parents and sister, where my grandparents (long gone but never forgotten) visited and where I met the best friends I’ve ever had and we experienced life’s adventures for the first time.

School days and favorite teachers and first crushes.
Parties and bar mitzvahs.
Little League, pick up basketball, stickball and football.
First cars, first loves, first everything.
Then, one day it ends.

And you go off—as you should– to explore new places, new experiences and new people.
But you never completely leave home and the experiences and the people that shaped you.

These are the people who support you, challenge you, push you and pick you up when you stumble and fall—as we all do.
I felt compelled to come home when I turned 40 and wanted to show a new love where it was that I came from. I thought if she saw the places that accompanied the stories and the personal history that we would grow closer and I think we did. I was also anxious to visit her hometown, Clairton, PA., a hardscrabble kind of place that explains a lot about who she became.

Fourteen years later, almost to the day, I felt compelled to return to my hometown.
I’m not sure why. Maybe its just important to touch —albeit briefly—your roots.
Your roots are what center and ground you.

I guess I needed a dose of home.

Taking A Stroll

Last week, the Florida chapter of the American Planning Association was in West Palm Beach for their annual conference.
Hundreds of urban planners from throughout the state were in attendance to learn from each other and to pick up new ideas that can be tried back home.
West Palm Planner Ana Maria Aponte, a Delray resident, was in charge of hosting a mobile tour of local downtowns and Delray was chosen along with West Palm and Lake Worth.
I was honored and happy to take a bus load of planners on a walking tour.
Below are the notes I made of the points I wanted to make as we walked Atlantic Avenue, Pineapple Grove and the Old School Square Historic Arts District.

1. Public investment first. (In Delray’s case, the public made the initial investments in streetscapes, paver bricks, lighting, culture etc. and the private sector followed with colossal investment.)

2. Flexible zoning. Lenient parking regulations, densities. TCEA. First in state. Facade grants Cra. Rental assistance. (Flexible zoning is important where you are dealing with infill development. A reasonable parking code allowed for restaurants and an exemption from traffic concurrency rules allowed downtown to take shape. Without that “TCEA” there would have been no downtown. Density done right makes it possible for vibrancy to occur, for businesses to survive and makes our streets safer. It’s about design not density.
3. Built around culture, events. Tennis, festivals, Old School Square . (This stuff put us on the map and kept us there. Period. It created value, quality of life and wealth.)
4. We led with food and beverage. (But that was never the end game. Employment was always on the radar.)
5. Emphasis on downtown housing. (So important to support local businesses).
6. Open space preserved.
Citizens created OSS Park. City preserved Vets Park. Worthing Park etc.
7. Expand boundaries of downtown from I-95 to the ocean and two blocks north and south of avenue. We have good bones; a grid system.
U.S. 1 narrowed.  To stop speeding cars from flying past the downtown. So US 1 became a neighborhood instead of a highway.
8. Structured parking added. Land acquisition via Cra.
9. Future challenges.
Affordability: both commercial and residential.
Competition from other cities.
Managing nightlife.
Staying fresh.
Complacency  at the first signs of success when there is so much left to do.
I’m not sure I hit all of the points. We were walking fast, had limited time and I wanted to show them the Arts Garage where Marjorie Waldo graciously interrupted a staff meeting and a birthday party to give us an overview of her amazing facility.
We never did get to Old School Square where I wanted the group to meet Marusca Gatto who has done such a great job with the Cornell Museum.
Next time, for sure.
I like talking and writing about Delray Beach. I like sharing what we’ve learned with others trying to build their cities. I take great pride in the work that so many amazing people did over so many years. And I enjoy discussions of current and future challenges.
Cities are fascinating places. Ever changing. Always evolving. Always providing challenges and opportunities and so full of rich stories.
We are taking a few days off to explore some other cities. The blog will be back in a week or so.
Thanks for reading. Your attention is greatly appreciated.

Art Endures: So Does Social Infrastructure

The legendary Paul Simon is on a farewell tour. He visited South Florida for a final show at BB&T.

I’m at an age where my childhood heroes are— how can I be delicate– terming out so to speak.

It seems like every concert I attend these days is part of a “farewell tour” and I have some anxiety every time I hit the “obituary” link on my New York Times app.

Yet, I feel compelled to visit the link because I don’t want to miss the passing of people who meant something to me along the way.

Recent weeks have been especially difficult: we’ve lost Burt Reynolds, the wonderful Neil Simon, Aretha Franklin, John McCain and character actor Bill Daily—Major Healy on “I Dream of Jeanie” which was on every day in my house when my sister and I were growing up. In ways large and small, these people played roles in our culture and therefore our lives.

Politics are important, but politicians come and they go. They may leave a wake—policies may benefit  and they can certainly harm– but the cycles keep coming. But culture endures.

We attended the “farewell tour” for Paul Simon last weekend when it rolled into the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

He played new music and some songs that were 50 years old. They all sounded good, but the older songs still resonated, they were still relevant and they still rang true.

The final song of the night was “American Tune” which was written in 1973. The song is as meaningful today as it was 45 years ago.

“Still when I think of the road we’re traveling on I wonder what’s gone wrong. I can’t help it I wonder what’s gone wrong”.

In introducing the song, Mr. Simon spoke briefly, but his few words spoke volumes.

“Strange times,” he said drily. “Don’t give up.”

We won’t.

I know every generation thinks they have cornered the market on musical genius, but I think the Baby Boomers really did.

We grew up amidst an explosion of musical talent and their music has invaded our pores and informed our thoughts and views of life.

Don’t believe me?

Then consider: The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys, Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, U2, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Byrds, CCR, The Band, Stevie Wonder, Aretha, Neil Young, Smokey Robinson, Dylan, The Dead, Elton John, Billy Joel, the Allman Brothers, The Kinks, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Earth Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon and on and on she goes.

Oh I like new music too and seek it out regularly. But our golden age will be hard to match. The world has changed, there is no longer any water cooler, no multi-format radio stations that everyone listens to—we are tethered to our devices and our Spotify song lists. We have convenience and music on demand, but we have lost that common experience. Nobody is home at Graceland anymore.

We all knew what happened when “me and Julio” went down to the school yard and we surely knew what it was like to listen to “Dazed and Confused” while drinking warm beer with friends on a hot summer night. We have traded Budweiser with our buddies for earbuds and solitude. And it makes me a little sad and more than a little nostalgic….

Then, over the weekend, I read about a new term: “social infrastructure.”

I love it.

The author lamented the loss of “social infrastructure” in our cities—places like libraries, places like Old School Square and Patch Reef Park—“palaces for the people” is what the author Eric Klinenberg calls them. I love that phrase.

We ought to start thinking of our public spaces that way. It may be more important now than ever to tend to the commons before they go away and we physically meld with our cellphones and social media platforms. A new study released this week says that teenagers prefer to relate to their friends on their devices rather than in person. Think about that…it’s disturbing.

Regardless, this is a ramble. And I appreciate you reading this far.

From Major Healy to Old School Square we’ve covered some ground…but this drift was anticipated by the likes of Paul Simon when he sang (way back in 1967):

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio

Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson

Jolting Joe has left and gone away.”

Yes, he has.

I will miss this amazing array of talent we have enjoyed–as one by one they fade away. But their music…their sublime and transcendent music… will surely endure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminiscing

Burt Reynolds filmed B.L. Stryker in Palm Beach County and at least one episode in Delray.

The world lost two titans last week, actor Burt Reynolds and Amway co-founder and Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos.

But while most of the obituaries chronicled the triumphs of both men– memorable roles for Mr. Reynolds and business success for Mr. DeVos–I thought of something else—brief meetings with both men.

I met Mr. Reynolds while he was filming his detective series B.L. Stryker in Palm Beach County thirty years ago.
He chose to film parts of an episode on South Swinton Avenue at the Cathcart House, owned by Virginia Snyder at the time, a real life private investigator.
I was working for the Delray Times and managed to wangle an invite to the set for an interview.

This was a bit of a coup because Mr. Reynolds had a grudge at the time against the Lantana- based National Enquirer and was wary of anyone carrying a notebook.

Once I was able to convince him that I wasn’t a tabloid reporter looking to dish dirt, he warmed up and we had a brief but memorable (for me anyway) interview on the porch.

As a bonus, I also got to meet his co-star on that episode the great Maureen Stapleton. The experience was a blast. This was Burt Reynolds, the bandit, the star of some of my favorite movies: The Longest Yard, Deliverance, The End, Semi Tough, Sharky’s Machine, Best Friends and the sinfully underrated Starting Over which starred my favorite actress and childhood crush Jill Clayburgh.

If I may digress, I once clipped a picture out of Newsday of Ms. Clayburgh and presented it when I shyly and painfully asked a young Clayburgh look alike in my high school for a date. I was so nervous that I literally forgot her answer to my query, but I do remember that she wasn’t sure whether I was flattering her or not.

PS. I was.

Jill Clayburgh was beautiful.

But back to Mr. Reynolds.

He was Florida’s favorite son.

He loved Palm Beach County and did a lot to promote our state and county.

I once interviewed his acting teacher, the late great Watson B. Duncan at Palm Beach State College. He was very proud of Burt Reynolds. And rightfully so.

Mr. Reynolds was a good guy. And a great patron of the local art scene.
He will always be remembered and sorely missed.

As for Mr. DeVos, he was a giant in business and philanthropy. His name adorns our local YMCA.
Way back when, he spoke at a Mayors Prayer Breakfast and I had a chance to share a podium and a breakfast with him.

He gave a wonderful speech and gifted me his book “Hope From My Heart” which told the extraordinary story of his 1997 heart transplant, a three way operation that was just an amazing story. So was starting a global business with $49 of startup capital.

We had a great conversation at breakfast and I remember him being very kind and gracious.

Mr. DeVos mentored a friend of mine, Frank McKinney. In fact, I learned of his death on Frank’s Instagram page.
May both men Rest In Peace. I wanted to share their “Delray stories.” Thanks for the opportunity.

P.S. Tomorrow is 9/11. As we mourn the loss of icons, we should always remember those who lost their lives on that fateful day and in the wars that followed. I always say a special prayer for a classmate, Michael Boyle, a New York firefighter who bravely lost his life on that tragic day. He was only 37.

One More Thought Inspired By McCain

Amen.

 

“There are people whose leadership cannot be measured in their lifetime,” –Nancy Koehn, Harvard leadership professor and author.

Professor Koehn was speaking about Sen. John McCain who passed last month at the age of 81.

Rebel. Maverick. Patriot. War hero. McCain was all that and more.

His passing reminded us of what we have in common, what binds us together as Americans.

Democrats and Republicans rushed to praise Sen. McCain and for good reason. He was a special type of leader who spent a lifetime in service to his country.

We are living in age where service is either ignored or disparaged and that is not only wrong it’s deeply damaging.

We are attacking institutions, ideals and the notion of service through labels (“career politician”), irresponsible social media posts and by excusing reprehensible behavior as necessary to shake up a broken system.

We lose an awful lot when we allow these social spasms to pass without comment. We risk the loss of a common purpose and mission. We gamble with the loss of important standards and ideals and we put at risk the ability to take pride in our nation and its achievements when we trade decency for short term political gain or retribution.

Senator McCain’s passing reminds us how important it is to attract and retain serious people in service to our country.

I would argue that goes for cities and communities as well.

We need to attract and retain talent on the local level in order to build better communities for everyone.

I have always been enamored of leadership. I’ve seen what it can do to change a place—be it a neighborhood, a non-profit, a city or a business.

As a result, I’ve kept a close eye on leaders and watched to see how they make positive change occur and more importantly last.

But the importance of leadership never wanes, even when (maybe especially when) you achieve success. There is always a need to fill the pipeline with talented, dedicated and effective leaders.

If you fail to fill the pipeline no lead is safe. You will regress. If you fill the pipeline and view the development of people as the most important mission in the world than you will guarantee progress and success.

It’s a simple concept. But very hard to put into place.

So when I see cities, businesses, non-profits, neighborhood associations or schools regress it’s almost always a leadership issue. The symptoms vary, but the root cause is usually the same.

Every endeavor has its blips, setbacks, mistakes, errors etc., good leadership figures it out and overcomes.

Good Guys (And Gals) Do Not Finish Last

John McCain’s passing prompted a national conversation. Will it yield results?

In the end the good guys win.
Oh they may lose a few battles, they may endure a few bumps and bruises but in the end their goodness wins.
That was the feeling I had while watching John McCain’s magnificent funeral at the National Cathedral.
Senator McCain’s death reminds us of the importance of bipartisanship, the merits of a good fight for a just cause and that there is another path to take. Away from partisanship. Away from rancor and division. Away from meanness and cruelty.
It was a parting gift from a great man. Will we seize it?

We will reset our course and summon our better angels or we will head into November and continue to tear each other apart?

I know what the right course is. Most people do.

But we need our political leaders to actually lead for a change, to make a fundamental choice to be principled but decent, to find a way forward and not succumb to the same old tired divisions.

The benefit of the better angels should be self evident. Who do you want to do business with: a tough but honest person who treats his employees and customers with kindness or an egomaniac who oversees a dysfunctional culture?

Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber, built a brilliant platform but was ousted because his “bro culture” proved toxic.

Harvey Weinstein may have been a great film producer but his abhorrent and reprehensible behavior toppled his empire.

These days, the volatile hot-headed Elon Musk finds himself scrutinized for his narcissistic behavior that threatens to undermine the brilliance of Tesla.

If he or other despots don’t change their ways, they will fail. Because in the end that is the only outcome for those who go it alone, can’t get along with others, bully, berate and boast.

Oh they may enjoy a run. They may go far but ultimately they will be hoisted by their own petard as the saying goes.

That goes for CEOs of multinational companies, owners of small businesses, presidents and small town mayors and council members.

If you think you are the smartest person in the room let me assure you, you are not.
If you think you can bully and intimidate your way through life let me assure you that someday you will run into someone who will not abide your behavior.

You will be called out.

You will be exposed.

Your success will be ephemeral, not lasting.

John McCain reminds us of that truism. He was a good man whether or not you agreed with his politics.
The world will miss John McCain. He gave us a much needed moment of unity.
We need that moment to become a way of life, a value and belief system that nobody dares to ignore or disrespect.

Things We Loved In August: From Birthdays to Penne Pasta

Lt. Bobby Keating retired after a long and distinguished career at the Delray PD.

Things we liked August

Seeing Delray’s Coco Gauff  in the pages of Sports Illustrated which celebrated her becoming the youngest number one junior in the world at age 14.
The article also noted Coco’s desire to follow in Serena Williams’s footsteps and noted that both played at Delray’s Pompey Park.

Speaking of tennis..Delray Open champ Frances Tiafoe was also featured in SI as one of four future greats who may take the mantle from Federer, Nadal and company. Good to see. Tiafoe is coming back to Delray in 2019. The tournament is becoming known as the birth place of future stars.

The penne ala vodka at Domus in Boca Raton.

Happy hour at Che’

An amazing dinner at Apeiro with good friends at the Delray Marketplace.

A great article on Fifth Avenue Grill by one of my favorite writers Diane Feen in one my favorite paper the Delray Newspaper.

Catching up with my friend Yulia @ The Corner Porch.

Checking out the sea turtle hatchlings at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

Seeing the magnificent documentary Three Identical Strangers at The Living Room Theatre.

Seeing Celsius on the shelf at Fresh Market.

Great to see Ethel Isaacs Williams | Senior Vice President, Development & Public Affairs, Kaufman Lynn Construction, in  Delray Beach chosen for Leadership Florida Class 37. As a proud member of Class 24, I can speak with confidence that Ethel is in for a great experience. Congratulations.

Meeting Alex Redfearn the bright new owner of CityWalk. That was a project I was thrilled to support back in the day. It transformed a key corner in Pineapple Grove and gave us Brule’ one of my favorite spots. Alex will do great things.

Thanks to Francis and his wonderful staff at La Cigale for hosting my birthday dinner. Thanks to Kim Thomas for sharing her special birthday with me and for including me in her formal party at the wonderful Pinball Museum.

What can we say about Jimmy Christe? Just a wonderful guy, who served his nation as a Navy diver (underwater demolition expert) and quietly served his city as one half of a fundraising team with our friend Chuck Halberg. The duo rode thousands of miles together on motorcycles raising money for local charities. We lost Jimmy (far too soon) in August. But we will never lose his memory. Rest easy my friend.
We also mourn the losses of Kevin McCarty, Alan Armour and Col. Bill Condry.
Kevin served on our CRA and chaired the South Florida Water Management District board among other civic endeavors .
Alan chaired Old School Square and was instrumental in securing the funding for the pavilion we all enjoy.
Colonel Condry was a dear man. After serving his country he served his city supervising Pompey Park, mentoring key city staff and always providing stellar leadership through the years.

Congratulations on a job well done to Lt. Bobby Keating who retired after 24 years of service to our police department. Just a great officer. He will be missed.

Congrats to Jeff Goldman on his new position as Assistant City Manager after a successful stint as Delray police chief.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jeff since he was a very young police officer where he was generous enough to allow me to ride along when he was on the tact team which was tasked with cleaning up street level drug sales which were rampant in those days. Men and women like Jeff and Lt. Keating did much to enable Delray’s success. They deserve our thanks and gratitude.

Congratulations also to the great Patty Reed for her many years of service to our Chamber of Commerce. Patty always made you feel special and was such an integral part to making the Delray Chamber a warm and inviting organization.

Happy birthday to Pam Halberg. Another local star and lovely person. Chuck is a lucky man. And he knows it, which means he’s also a smart man.

Happy 90th birthday to Virginia Schmidt, mother of Mayor David Schmidt. We were honored to be on hand to celebrate the milestone at the Elks Club.

Last but most certainly not least, my wife Diane celebrated a birthday in August. She makes every day feel like my birthday.

Life Lessons At Gumbo Limbo

Visit Gumbo Limbo to see some leatherbacks.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is one of those local treasures that you may miss if you don’t slow down and visit.
Nestled off of A1A near Red Reef Park in Boca Raton, Gumbo Limbo is beautiful and if you are looking to reconnect to nature and experience a different Boca, this is the place.

We used to go to Gumbo Limbo years ago, when the kids were little or when we had visitors with children. It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours, visiting the marine life, walking the boardwalk and gazing at the marine life in the aquariums.
But we hadn’t been there in years, so we jumped at the chance to go with a friend to witness a sea turtle hatchling release event recently.
It was a blast.
An educational and thrilling blast. We even met founder Gordon Gilbert which was a real honor.

We highly recommend you go if you have an opportunity and we also urge you to get involved if you are so inclined.
Sea turtles are amazing.

There are three types of turtles who hatch on our shores and all three species are in peril.
Loggerheads, leatherbacks and greens nest and hatch here and they face  long odds to live to maturity—about 1,000 to 1. That’s not a typo.

Between predators—foxes, raccoons, birds and sadly people—hatchlings have to cope with pollution, warming sands in Boca (which are creating an astounding 95 percent female population) and natural hazards as they swim miles to their nursery in the Sargasso Sea.

When you attend a sea turtle event you learn these things from a very informative and dedicated marine scientist. You come away from the experience as an advocate. It’s hard not to get caught up in the hatchling’s plight and to draw some parallels to life itself.

Watching the little turtles work their way to the ocean— pushed back by the tide, veering off to the seaweed, wandering toward the artificial light from the Deerfield pier or the cars on A1A is alternately thrilling and sobering.
Thrilling because it’s so beautiful to see these little ones scampering in the sand where if they beat the odds and make it they will spend 20 years at sea before returning to the sand.
And sobering because of those long odds made worse by human pollution such as plastic that they often choke on or get entangled.
It may sound silly but when you see the hatchlings rush to the sea you can’t help but draw a parallel to our own existence.

Life presents so many obstacles,  we’re so fragile and yet life is  immensely beautiful.