The City of Pompano Beach has been on quite a journey to turn itself around over the last nine years.
Like people throughout our community, we love the progress that has been made, but recent developments have put the city’s positive direction at risk. First, some background:
For decades prior to 2009, city leadership had been extremely frugal, letting Pompano Beach deteriorate and leaving it with a poor reputation of blight and slum. The City began to address the situation by forming Community Redevelopment Areas, or CRAs: the first in 1989 for the northwest part of town, and the second in 2001 for the eastern part of town. But other than some land acquisition, and a few projects with mixed results, not much progress was realized.
In 2009, a new, forward-thinking city commission was elected. Along with its Economic Development Council, the Chamber, a new city manager and new CRA directors, the City began its renaissance. Their belief was that better infrastructure and amenities would lead to better quality of life for residents, and prosperity for local businesses; and that private money would follow. They created a plan, stuck to it and delivered as promised.
New projects emerged all over town. Among them: a spectacular new beachfront and an iconic parking garage, an improved Atlantic Boulevard with new building facades, decorative street lighting, plantings and sidewalks, and the nation’s only municipal golf course designed by Greg Norman.
We now have new libraries, new fire stations, a state-of-the art dog park, restoration of the city’s historic downtown, and revitalization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The city developed public arts projects, and cultural arts facilities including BaCa, Ali Center, and the Pompano Cultural Arts Center. The city helped create Shipwreck Park to attract new visitors and help preserve the natural reefs nearby. It launched a water taxi service, and a new, state-of-the-art fishing pier is well underway.
The magnitude of this turn-around put Pompano Beach in the spotlight of national and worldwide attention with articles in the Associated Press, Time and Money Magazines, CNBC, Expedia, Travelocity and many more.
Pompano Beach finally caught the attention of many new businesses who decided this was now a city worth their investing. We rapidly acquired the Marriott Pompano Beach, other hotels, Whole Foods, LA Fitness, numerous new restaurants and craft breweries, and many new manufacturers and distributors in our Class A industrial sector. More are on the way, creating new jobs and a higher tax base.
It is no wonder city residents recently voted overwhelmingly by more than 2-to-1 in favor of low-interest GO bonds for additional infrastructure improvements throughout the city. There could be no better vote of confidence by residents in the city and its leadership.
However, since the elections of 2016, the unity of vision and spirit of congeniality on the city commission has been dealt a serious blow through the misplaced efforts of two new commissioners who were not part of the city’s turn-around. For example, they voted against putting the important GO bonds on the ballot for public vote, and then fought against their passage. Should they get re-elected and one be put into the position as mayor, GO bond infrastructure projects for improved streets, parks and public safety could be halted.
These two commissioners also voted against allowing local Pompano contractors to have priority against outsiders when bidding on city projects. And they tried unsuccessfully to fire our CRA directors, who had so expertly steered the city’s redevelopment efforts since 2009. Eventually those CRA directors chose to resign over the false and distorted accusations relative to ethical behavior and financial integrity made by these two commissioners and their supporters. These actions further exacerbated city issues with Broward County to the point that the longevity and the very existence of our CRAs is in jeopardy.
Pompano Beach is still enjoying redevelopment momentum from all the positive changes which have occurred. However, demagoguery, dissension and political posturing on the commission have already begun to slow this momentum.
This is why a group of community leaders got together to form the “Citizens for a Better Pompano Beach” political committee. Citizens for a Better Pompano Beach is committed to shaping the political environment to help return the City to sustainable, smart growth, laying the foundation for wide-ranging economic benefits, public safety and an enhanced quality of life for our community.
We urge like-minded citizens to join us so that together we can keep Pompano Beach moving forward!