03 May Why Gardens aims to annex more land, this time at Seacoast plant
By Sarah Peters
Courtesy of the Palm Beach Post
Palm Beach Gardens is scooping up unincorporated pockets along the city’s edges, and the latest target for annexation is 14 acres off Richard Road.
Seacoast Utility Authority owns the property, where it has a water pumping and storage facility. Palm Beach Gardens doesn’t stand to gain tax revenue from the annexation because the property just west of Alternate A1A is tax-exempt.
However, the annexation would allow the city to proceed with plans for a police and fire training complex without having to go through the county for approvals, Palm Beach Gardens spokeswoman Candice Temple said.
Palm Beach Gardens had hoped to start work on the training complex last summer and be nearing completion this spring. So far, they’ve put in a pavilion, done some grade work and installed a fence, Temple said.
Police and firefighters will train for mass casualty and SWAT incidents, drone use and search-and-rescue missions. They can also use the complex for K-9 training. Firefighters plan to simulate car fires and create a drafting pit.
Gardens officials have said the safety complex will give firefighters and police from the north end of the county a convenient place to train together, reducing travel times.
The city has budgeted $820,000 from fire-impact fees paid by developers.
The Seacoast board voted in favor of annexation at its March 28 meeting. The utility supplies water service to about 47,000 households and 2,700 commercial establishments in northern Palm Beach County.
In April 2016, the board considered two proposals for using 9 acres of surplus land at the 14 acre-site. They had to choose between the public safety complex or wetlands that would clean rain water before it reaches the C-17 canal and drains into the Lake Worth Lagoon.
Sustainable Palm Beach County, a not-for-profit led by former Palm Beach County Commissioner Karen Marcus, proposed that the wetlands with a boardwalk over the C-17 canal for public enjoyment and a “living laboratory” for students at Howell L. Watkins Middle School.
The split Seacoast board chose the training complex. Palm Beach Gardens holds about 60 percent of the voting share.