Published On: Fri, May 4th, 2012

COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY… ON THE RISE

As a recent 3 year resident to this great city of Boca Raton, I have a lot to experience in the intricacies of our social and political groups.  Of great import is the collegial interaction between like groups from all around the town.

In that regard, this past Tuesday I was privileged to participate with a formidable association of neighborhood voices interested in the betterment of quality of life within their homes, their community and their city and who meet on a regular basis to discuss issues, hear presentations and provide insight into their issues of concern.

The Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Association is perhaps the most appropriate means for good communication to and through our entire city.  What a perfect structure to foster community involvement, nurture community spirit and report on community activity within Boca Raton’s representative government.  In attendance were dozens of HOA leaders, members of various boards and committees, city staff, the deputy mayor, interested citizens and members of the local press.

Communications abound…..

“It’s all good” Rudy Childer, Boca Raton’s downtown manager states.  With that opening, presentations were made on downtown development initiatives, the status of the Business Incentive District and connectivity within the downtown area to further the established objective of the downtown being a destination and entertainment district.

A very informative gathering to say the least…

“Things are not all good”, offered Anne Witte, a neighborhood representative and economist, who presented a professional analysis on the state of rental apartments.

Ms. Witte pointed to the numerous vacant office, vacant retail and vacant condo signs highly visible throughout the area.  She offered analysis on finance oriented growth patterns for residential development and warned that oversaturation of the market would prove detrimental to managed growth and quality of life issues within the downtown and its surrounding area.

This presentation generated significant discussions on the pros and cons of the recent city council approvals for some 1000 apartment rentals and the anticipation of more in the not to distant future.  An energetic discussion, not meant to reach conclusion but rather to foster an active debate, ensued and clearly demonstrated the importance of communication, dialogue and community involvement.

An extremely useful medium…..

Leadership of this Federation should be commended.  Interested citizens should make every attempt to attend these meetings on a regular basis and the Federation should build on its efforts to monitor what is going on within the city’s committees and boards; formulate official position papers to these bodies and be prepared to be the official voice of the community on items of concern at the city council when quality of life topics are  presented for discussion and eventual vote.

Perhaps best said by one attendee was the realization that effective citizen input and influence is done early in the process rather then later down the road.  Congratulations to the Federation for providing the vehicle to achieve citizen participation into the inner workings of our city government.

If we, the citizens, fail to avail ourselves of the opportunity, then an old political adage will prevail….People get the government they deserve….Let’s allow ourselves to deserve the best that government has to offer by communicating effectively and by growing to a heightened community involvement…..the results will be rewarding.

A surprisingly useful experience…..

A second item of great interest to citizens taking place this week was the goal setting session and financial summit.    Much will be said about these findings and there results over the next few weeks.  However, suffice it to say that my criticism as to Boca Raton’s vision is somewhat misplaced.

What became apparent is that the great city of Boca Raton simply does not communicate well to the outside world.   A fair comment based upon what was presented to date and what has been achieved over the last few years would be that we really need to tell our story better.

Thanks are extended to the city staff for their participation in this exercise and to the facilitator for bringing out the finer points of the vision.  Time will tell how the resulting plan is implemented and how the story is told.  But one thing is for sure, Boca Raton deserves to have its story told around the nation and around the globe.

My wish of the day is that Boca Raton finds its voice and begins to shout out at the top of its proverbial lungs that we are southeast Florida’s renaissance city, second to none and therefore better than most…..

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