Shared from the 3/3/2017 Palm Beach Post eEdition


Term limits change council’s faces

Disparate group oversaw mushrooming growth while still staying committed to keeping city green.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — The Breakfast Club is breaking up.

Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Marcie Tinsley, herself a land planner, compared the City Council of a banker, accountant, arts lover and geology teacher to the disparate group of the popular 1985 movie Thursday night during her last meeting as a city official.

Three longtime Council members, Tinsley, Vice Mayor Eric Jablin and Councilman Bert Premuroso, cannot seek re-election because of term limits voters overwhelmingly passed in November 2014. The term limits restricting officials to serve no more than two full, consecutive three-year terms were retroactive.

Former Councilmen Joe Russo — the accountant — and David Levy — the geologist — were the first officials affected by the term limits last March.

The slate has presided over the city’s tremendous growth since developers brought forth their plans for land formerly owned and controlled by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 1999, the foundation sold nearly 15,000 acres in three counties for $228 million.

Jablin, a 25-year veteran on the City Council, was overcome with emotion during his farewell speech. He described when he first ran for City Council “when this little city was hardly a city.” City Hall was perched on a man-made hill overlooking the police station. There were only one or two restaurants, he said.

“The promise was there but it was far from being fulfilled,” Jablin said.

L as t M a rc h , t h e c ou n c i l approved Avenir, a 3,250-home community with more than 1.2 million square feet of office space, that will radically change the character of western Northlake Boulevard. The council also saw United Technologies commit to a $115 million Center for Intelligent Buildings on Donald Ross Road.

They faced intense opposition from homeowners in 2013 for considering a spring training baseball stadium for the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays near two schools on 117th Court North. They yielded, telling Palm Beach County to look at better sites elsewhere. A $150 million stadium for the Astros and Washington Nationals opened last month in West Palm Beach.

Tom Cairnes, of The Gardens Mall and representing the PGA Corridor Association, said he remembered looking over plans and flying over the site of the 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center with Jablinbeforebreakingground.

He challenged the future City Council to “stay the course” under City Manager Ron Ferris’ leadership.

Resident Joan Elias, who attends almost every council meeting, commended officials for a city that’s more than 50 percent green space and for fulfilling the vision laid out years ago.

“I think that is remarkable, because usually people set goals and never reach them,” Elias said.

Tinsley was first elected in 2010 to fill the remaining portion of the term of Jody Barnett, who resigned. Premuroso, first elected in 2008, was re-elected without opposition in 2014.

Councilwoman Maria Marino replaced Russo, and Councilman Carl Woods replaced Levy after a protracted court fight about Levy’s eligibility. Russo’s son, Joe Russo Jr., is now seeking election to the seat held by Tinsley. Three others are vying for her seat: Kevin Easton, Rachelle Litt and George Wicker.

Twitter: @Speters09

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