When it comes to the future of Palmetto Bay, there is little doubt that the finances of the Village need to change. Several independent studies estimate that within five years Palmetto Bay will have no reserves and will be forced to raise taxes and cut services. So, right now is the right time to face facts and plan for fiscally responsible change.
No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, the adage "You gotta spend money to make money" rings true... And that, plus a grand plan, may just be the saving grace for Palmetto Bay.
On September 5, Village Building Department Director Ed Silva addressed the Palmetto Bay Business Association to outline a bold vision to create a Downtown Palmetto Bay, revitalizing the area and quickly reversing a downward trending tax base.
With nearly 100 business and community leaders in attendance, Silva showed that how a small geographic area that is currently bringing in $20,000 annually in ad-valorum tax could quickly turn into a $1.5 million powerhouse with proper planning. "It's about a private/public partnership and putting a plan in motion," explained Silva.
The idea is to take the the area surrounding the Village Hall from the now mundane and somewhat dysfunctional streets and transform it into suburban plazas, rich with shopping, entertainment and restaurants. Incentivizing business density will, in turn, increase residential density.
It's hard not to want this success for Palmetto Bay. The question is how to boot strap the Village into doing it. There are shades of gray as to how to blend the public/private efforts. There is also the fact that any public money will need to come from Village reserves. But, as always, "you have to spend money to make money" comes into play here.
With Village Manager Ron Williams, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor John DuBois and several Village staffer in attendance, Silva got the business crowd fired up by showing photos of what could be and what should be in Palmetto Bay. "The question is not why, but rather why not. We have the opportunity to create a live/work/play downtown and now is the time to make it happen. It benefits everyone."
Silva explained there is a 40-person strong Downtown Redevelopment Task Force already in place and working hard to lay out the initial steps to success. He then invited David Zisman and Stanley Stanczyk from the task force to unveil a scale model of the long-term downtown vision. It showed low, mid and high-rise buildings amid an ample patchwork of open green spaces and walkways that would invite people to walk through the downtown area.
As a Palmetto Bay resident and task member, I can tell you I am very excited by the prospect of staying local to shop, eat and play. No one can deny a Downtown Palmetto Bay is filled with positives and would provide a revitalizing energy. I will report on progress in the coming days, weeks and months ahead.