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April 21, 2014

City approves water monitoring wells near Deer Run

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the City are taking water samples in an area east of Powerline Road and south of Hillsboro Boulevard to determine whether chemicals used by a defunct dry cleaner have contaminated the water.
The city commission has approved drilling the monitoring wells on April 1 but it was no April Fool’s joke; the agreement putting two monitoring wells behind the strip mall best known for the store selling shoes for $9.99 will allow the EPA and city to study ground water to see if it has been contaminated by a business that formerly operated there.
“It’s an old issue we are trying to clean up,” explained Charlie DaBrusco, the city’s director of environmental services. “[It is] pollution they found a long time ago. It is not something the city deals with.”
The last time there was this much public attention to a dry cleaning problem was five years ago. Deerfield Cleaners and Laundry, owned by former city and county commissioner Sylvia Poitier, was found responsible for 14 violations of environmental law related hazardous waste. The offense: contaminating the "ground or groundwater" beneath 85 W. Hillsboro Blvd. with perchloroethylene, also known as perc.
In that case, too, it was the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that cracked down. Poitier in 2012 avoided a charge of contempt of court by agreeing to begin making payments of $1,200 per month toward site clean up, and $100 a month for ten months for litigation.
DaBrusco said regulators are concerned in this case because the alleged contamination abuts a residential neighborhood. But, he said, drinking water is not in jeopardy.
“Our water supply wells are so far awy from there,” he said. “Also, we use Biscayne Aquifer wells, which are 1,300 feet down. Those would not be impacted by this.”

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April 19, 2014

Disaster Survival House Prepares for new tenants -- Teens

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In recent weeks, the half-walls that once demonstrated how to make a house safe from fire, floods, hurricane and burglars were patched with wallboard and painted bright aqua and rose. Cozy rooms were fashioned from museum-sized display areas.
The goal is to move the city’s Teen Center programming here, Deerfield spokeswoman Rebecca Medina said. This is the second teen center relocation since 2011.
“The opening of this facility will allow great expansion on programming, and it is equipped to provide indoor and outdoor programming and activities,” Medina said. “There isn’t a gymnasium or athletic facility on site, but there is outdoor space that is safe and spacious enough for teens to remain active.”
Ironically, safety has been this particular home’s Raison d’être since it opened 15 years ago. Set up by State Farm to be a demonstration project following the two costliest hurricanes in history, it featured scientifically-developed windows, doors and safety systems.
But as the weather subsided and State Farm lost interest in maintaining it, the company deeded the house to the city. Since then, it has seen an occasional tour from local groups.
“The Disaster House is situated in an ideal location. It is closer in proximity to the High and Middle [stet] schools in the area,” Petty said explained in an email. “This means it’s easier to walk to after school.”
Utilization was a concern at the Teen Center when it moved from Powerline Road to inside Deerfield Beach High and Deerfield Beach Middle School. In the 32 months since, the after school program has swelled to 28 enrollees, with another 20 teens participating in various programs.
“This new location is also more centralized for parents to either drop off or pick up their teens on a daily basis,” Petty wrote.

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April 18, 2014

Century Village to lose 219 Trees, with no replacements in Sight

Jerry Scharff once tended three acres at his Fishkill, N.Y. home, including trees he transplanted from a nearby forest. Just two-inches in diameter when he put them in the ground nine years ago, the pin oaks and maple trees now are eight feet tall and cast graceful shadows near his garden of corn, tomatoes, peppers and basil.
So Scharff took a proprietary interest in the news that the city planned to cut down 200 trees inside the gated community of Century Village. True, the large Ficus tree in front of the community’s main club house had succumbed after a wind storm in March. True, Hurricane Wilma had toppled many more trees in 2005.
But 200 trees?
According to city spokesman Rebecca Medina, Deerfield Beach’s arborist, Harold Hoyt, refused to be interviewed for this story. Medina said the number of trees slated for removal is 219 to be exact – which still seems like a lot to Scharff.
“I’m not a tree hugger, but you have to be able to save some of these trees,” he said recently. “If they focus on Ficus, I’m fine with that, but to remove 200 of them? With the shade they provide and the oxygen?
“Why should the city be able to come onto private property like any private house and force me to take it down?”
The city is entitled to do just that, according to Medina. Moreover, the city has been asked to do that, according to Donna Capobianco, president of the community’s master management company.
“…(A)ny citizen is able to report ot the city any time there is a danger of trees being old. The icty has an obligation that they have to investigate,” Capobianco said. “The city does come out and if the city sees there is a problem, the city does take action. There is nobody who controls that….If the city feels there is a danger, then the city does what the city does…mark the tree.”
As Medina explained it in her email, “The preserving…of trees…within the boundaries of the city….was the county’s responsibility (until) November 28, 2001. At that time, the city was recertified to enforce a code which is as strict as the county’s…” and calls for the removal of 219 Ficus, Mahogany, Bishovia, Silk Oak, Black Olive, Earleaf Acacia, and even a Palm Tree. As Medina wrote in her email, the trees slated for removal have been tagged due to “poor condition (health, safety and welfare concerns)(.)
Since the trees are owned by the community’s 253 associations, each of the 253 will assume responsibility and cost of tree replacement. “Each association has to deal with their own property issues,” Capobianco confirmed. “There is no one central property.”
And they will have to foot the cost themselves, according to Medina’s email.
“The Shady Street Tree Program is intended for new trees in the City’s swale only, not as replacement of trees,” she said, “unless they were planted by the same program.”
Scharff concedes there are trees that are begging for removal. The problem is, he said, it’s all a subjective thing.
“There are trees that re behind condos that are in worse shape than ones that have been tagged,” he said. “There are some that have good life in them,” h e said. “Let us prune. Let us prune."

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April 17, 2014

Deerfield and Hillsboro gird for hurricane season with sand replenishment

Almost a year after Hillsboro Beach fired its beach consultant, the town has asked nearby Deerfield Beach for help with a beach restoration project involving $2.1 million worth of sand to replenish the beach — the second such project in less than three years.
Deerfield Beach agreed, approving the plan on April 1, on the advice of staff and coming less than two months shy of hurricane season.
“In light of the condition of the southern end of the city’s beaches, the fact that we are approaching another projected active hurricane season and because the state will be subsidizing a third of the estimated project costs,” wrote Chad Grecsek, Deerfield’s director of recycling and solid waste management, ”it is staff’s recommendation to move forward with this project.”
Past projects have relied on sand pumped from an offshore pit and piped onto shore. But many South Florida beach communities have been forced to turn to other sources.
Foreign sand is not in the equation for now, since federal law requires that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demonstrate that domestic sand is not available for economic or environmental reasons before it can use foreign sand — e.g., sand from the Bahamas.
The current plan calls for sand to be trucked in from another location. The plan calls for roughly 18,000 cubic yards of sand to be pumped onto the beach from Southeast Seventh Street to Southeast 10th Street.
The last time the city and town united in a quest for funding and influence was in 2011. The consortium won regulatory permission to install 339,151 cubic yards of sand and Deerfield Beach paid the town a percentage of the total project cost based on the amount of sand Deerfield Beach got. The sand was placed on the southern portion of Deerfield’s Beach, from Southeast Ninth Street to the city line and the remainder was placed on Hillsboro’s shore.
Eight months after the sand was installed, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the renourishment effort.
Now Hillsboro Beach commissioners have agreed to pay $700,000 of the new project’s $2.1 million cost, as well as Deerfield chipping in another $700,000.
The remaining $700,000 would be paid for by the state, Grecsek said.
Grecsek also said the city is looking into getting some funding from the county.

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April 10, 2014

Plans to narrow Hillsboro Boulevard Draw Muted Response

David Cohen’s mother liked to walk to the library and Publix from the bus stop at the corner of Hillsboro Boulevard and Federal Highway.The trouble was, the intersection is so fraught with traffic it often was difficult for the septugenerian to cross, between the traffic and cars turning right on red.
So, when Cohen heard April 8 that the city planned to slow traffic in that area, part of him warmed to the idea.
The rest of him did not.
Cohen himself lives in the Cove neighborhood. His doctor is near Deer Creek and he works out at Gold’s gym on West Hillsboro Boulevard. “I have driven that thing from as early as 7:30 a.m. and also late afternoon and it’s like a parking lot,” he said. “You creep. You crawl. You creep. You crawl –and then comes a train and you stop.”
It’s projected to get even worse in 2016. The city is asking the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] for permission to eliminate one lane in each direction, and widen a landscaped median from the post office at 212 E. Hillsboro Boulevard to just past Deerfield Beach Elementary School.
At the same time, DOT is widening Hillsboro Boulevard bridge in December and train traffic is increasing from 12 to 50 trains per day. “They are putting in another track from Miami to West Palm Beach [in 2016] and then running a high-speed rail line to Orlando,” explained City Manager Burgess Hanson. “Deerfield Beach is one of the first to get a station.”
Hillsboro Boulevard’s redesign is intended to slow traffic in an area that saw 118 accidents in seven years, according to project manager Bernard Buxton-Tetteh.
“The intent of this project is to improve pedestrian, bicyclist and automotive safety in this corridor,” the city said in its announcement.
Why the rush? Commission approval May 14 will save $100,000 by allowing the city to piggyback on FDOT’s plan to resurface Hillsboro Boulevard from Military Trail to Federal Highway, a challenge so profound that even Hanson was surprised at the turn out on Tuesday.
“If you look at the number of people impacted?” he said, “and there are 20 people here?”
“There is a house for sale on Southeast Second Street if anyone is interested,” someone groaned.
Cohen, however, said he would reserve judgment.
“I have a hope that it will work and I think, aesthetically, it is lovely,” he said, “But I’d rather have something that is functional than aesthetic.”

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About the Reporter

ELIZABETH ROBERTSELIZABETH ROBERTS
Elizabeth Roberts has covered Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point and Hillsboro... < More >

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