City Council Candidates Call for Improved Communication Among 3 Key Entities
By Fred Hamilton
BOCA RATON – City Hall, the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District and Florida Atlantic University are operating in silos and the three candidates seeking the vacant City Council seat in the March 10 election want to see a better working relationship.
In interviews with the Boca Raton Tribune, Frank Chapman, Jeremy Rodgers and Jamie Sauer said while all three entities do a good job individually, they need to do a better job in communicating.
“I think that we all need to work together,” said Sauer, 33, a third-generation Floridian who has lived in the city since she was 5. “Our beaches and parks are very important to Boca Raton and working together is very important as is communication – being clear on what they want and need for the city, for the district and for the university. I think the city works with all of them but I think there could be improvement.”
Chapman, a retired attorney, was more pragmatic.
He fears too much time is spent squabbling over issues that could be addressed through effective dialogue.
“We have a lack of communication, in fact, we almost have an adversarial relationship between the Beach & Park District and the City,” said Chapman, 47, a Boca Raton native. “There are things I read in the paper where I just can’t understand how these two could be fighting about something that to us is so quite simple, whether it’s beach re-nourishment or the fact that you have these many organizations fighting for a limited number of fields.
“I think it becomes an ego thing I don’t know if it’s any one person in particular,” said Chapman, who is a founding member and past president of the Boca Raton Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading organization. “I don’t like it because we don’t benefit.”
He also said all three entities are partners, and that the city and the university have not been effective in communicating their comprehensive plans for the future.
“I think that the biggest challenge facing the city and FAU is, ‘What is your 20-year plan?’” Chapman said.
All three candidates say FAU is important to the growth of the city.
Rodgers wants to see the city grow and cultivate the next pool of talents.
“I really want to see FAU, Lynn, Palm Beach State thrive,” the 36-year-old FAU graduate and software engineer with IBM said. “I want them to put out the best talent that they can. And when that talent goes out I don’t want to see them leave town to find a job.”
He envisions more technology business incubators in the city to compliment the area’s vibrant tourism and medical industry.
The Technology Business Incubators were created in response to a growing demand for its services. They serve resources for entrepreneurs emerging from FAU – students, recent graduates and faculty – which is now home to 22 early stage technology companies.
“Let’s encourage all the business start-ups to come here,” Rodgers said. “Let’s do what we did with FAU Research Park and with Tech Runway. I think the more of that that we do, the better we will be as a city.”
The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University has its own business incubator called Tech Runway, which focuses on technology companies, especially those working with university researchers.