Can Palm Beach County ERM learn from its mistakes?

27 11 2012

According to a Palm Beach Post article dated June 19, 2012 (“Jupiter’s DuBois Park earns national design award”), Palm Beach County spent $6.2 million  to restore, redevelop, and add new features to DuBois Park.  One of those features is a “1-acre snorkeling area and artificial reef.”

Less than 6 months later the Post, reporting on damage from Superstorm Sandy noted, “At Dubois Park in Jupiter, erosion along the shoreline exposed irrigation lines.  The damage totaled at least $200,000, officials said.”

There is an explanation for this damage.  An engineering solution called a “perched beach,” was improperly applied.  Unless the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Department (ERM) reexamines its plans for beach stabilization at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA), Cato’s Bridge Beach is destined to endure a similar fate.

A limestone breakwater, was built parallel to the beach to provide a snorkeling area and stabilize the beach at DuBois Park. Work was completed in March 2012.

An aerial image taken from an April 2012 ERM document depicts steps taken in Phase II (Shoreline Stabilization & Recreational Amenities).  A wall of stone with small openings was installed to protect the beach area and provide a snorkel lagoon. This design is so closely similar to the JILONA design plan that ERM made the comparison in a presentation to the Jupiter Town Council in 2011.

Proposed breakwater design for the eastern JILONA boundary extending south from Cato’s Bridge.

Recent storm damage at DuBois Park will require $200,000 to repair

Look at pictures of DuBois Park taken 2 weeks after Superstorm Sandy.  Note the severe erosion to the beach area.  Clearly, ERM’s beach stabilization is a dismal failure with a $200,000 price tag to repair.  If a similar situation occurs at JILONA, the damages could include destruction of the historic lighthouse.  We cannot allow this to happen.


A Nation Grieves

11 09 2012

10 years ago today my close friend, Lee, and I were driving from Wisconsin where we had taken ownership of an old Chris-Craft Holiday, to our homes in Florida.  The radio stations saturated the airwaves with patriotic music as we sliced through our nation’s heartland.  Every overpass on I-65 had an American Flag suspended from it’s railing.  On some, people proudly waved flags back and forth for everyone to see.  Cars and trucks passing below saluted their support with enthusiastic hand and arm gestures and sharp horn blasts.

Tears came to our eyes as we reflected on the tragedy of a year earlier – tragedy that touched the lives of every American in the most horrific way.  Our country came together on that day to honor and glorify the memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice for being Americans.  Our chests swelled with pride as we saw that we were surrounded with people we didn’t know, people we would never encounter again, people who joined together in defiance of terrorism,

The fervor has cooled. The expressions of patriotism are more controlled.  While that exuberance has passed, the deep sense of loss remains.  We all lost something dear to us on that day eleven years ago.  Perhaps it was our innocence… our naïveté.  Had we put up a psychological wall to shield ourselves from the pain, no one would have been surprised.  No one would have criticized us for compensating by turning cold-hearted.

That’s not what Americans do!  We cried.  We beat our chests in sorrow.  Then, our nation buckled down and faced the task at hand with intensity and conviction. Individually, we rose to the occasion.  We mustered a drive from deep inside that enabled us to push through the pain and move forward in a positive direction.  The struggle has been long and hard.  The human sacrifices continue to mount, but progress can be found every day.

Will our world return to a pre-9/11 blindness?  Never!  We stand prepared to join together to defend our homeland, to prove to the world once again that we will protect the American way of life!

Finding the Path to Prosperity.

2 09 2012

There are many paths to the same destination. They each have their own set of challenges, and they vary widely in difficulty. Whether you’re traveling from Florida to Alaska or attempting to reestablish growth and prosperity in a faltering economy, it’s the arrival that is of tantamount importance.

Hannibal crossing the Alps

The key element in any journey of magnitude is leadership. It was Hannibal’s leadership ability that enabled him to cross the Pyrenees, fight off local tribes of barbarians, cross the Rhone River, scale the Alps with an army of 50,000 Carthaginians, enter the Po Valley and defeat the Roman Army in a series of battles during the second Punic War.

A study of that campaign reveals not only his tactical superiority but also Hannibal’s negotiating ability, his political awareness, and his organizational skills. Most important of all was the manner in which he “managed” his army. He deployed them in ways that assured their freshness, reduced desertions to a minimum, confused his enemies and assured maximum strength upon entry into the Po Valley. Management is a critical element of leadership.

Romney’s successes with the Olympics and during the course of his governorship in Massachusetts may be a reflection of his management abilities, but management alone did not deliver his achievements in the face of opposition. While reviewing his history, reflect also upon Obama’s successes.

Is Obama able to forge a consensus from opposing elements? Is he successful in ending stalemates through compromise? Strength of leadership outweighs political platforms. Does Obama forge a consensus from opposing elements? Is he successful in ending stalemates through compromise?

Do not allow volumes of rhetoric distract as you strive to identify leadership skills in the candidates before you.

Let’s Pick a Leader For President, A Real Leader!

27 08 2012

The eyes of our nation are cast upon the upcoming presidential election; many not by choice.  Televised talking heads fill moments of planned escape from the vagaries of life with seemingly endless political diatribes.  Virtually every digital and print publication is saturated with advertisements and “news” stories extolling each candidate’s position on a wide variety of subjects or excoriating their comments, actions, or behavior.

The public is struggling with a difficult decision at a difficult time in the history of our country.  Clearly, we haven’t found the information we need to make the decision that our entire country depends upon.  Is President Obama’s position on healthcare, Romney’s position on right to life going to be the determining factor in this election?  Will the future of our economy or our military commitment in the Middle East sway your vote?

There will be no better time than right now to heed the words of the philosopher, George Santayana:  “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”  We need only look back in the history of our country to identify the criteria we should all use in selecting our next president.  Our greatest presidents were our greatest leaders. George Washington was a great leader.  Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the greatest leader of all.  Look carefully at Lincoln’s presidency.

Prior to 1861 when Abraham Lincoln took office, not one of the previous eight presidents (Buchanan, Pierce, Fillmore, Taylor, Polk, Tyler, Harrison, Van Buren) earned reelection.  The country was in turmoil as secessionists were tearing it  apart.  In his Inaugural Address, Lincoln said, “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.”

President Lincoln’s Cabinet

Unlike the “yes” men who commonly serve as cabinet level advisors, Lincoln chose his cabinet from a list of his greatest adversaries.  That nearly every one of them became intensely loyal, supportive presidential confidantes speaks more eloquently than words of Lincoln’s leadership.  Picture for a moment an Obama cabinet comprised of John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Paul.

When the war began in 1861, one month after Lincoln took office, there were 16,000 men in the US Army.  Lincoln initially called

Civil War Volunteer Recruitment Poster

for 75,000 volunteers to serve three months, time enough to put down the “insurrection.”  In July of 1861, Congress authorized a volunteer army of 500,000 men.  Ultimately, between 1861 and 1865, 2.5 million men served in the Union Army.  The majority were volunteers.  Of those, 360,000 died and 280,000 were wounded.

Congress, under Lincoln, authorized the first US Income Tax in 1862, in order to support the war effort.

Faced, as Commander-In-Chief, with leading a burgeoning war effort, Lincoln created and administered a foreign policy that prevented the intervention of other countries in the Civil War.  He crafted and successfully delivered the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  He held the country together and began the process of reconstruction after the war.

Lincoln was reelected…

…by Union and Confederate soldiers coming home from war, by political friends and foes, by the citizens of the reconstituted United States, the first president in 38 years to earn that honor.

That is leadership.  As you listen to the political commentary and read the stories, as you scan the ads and weigh the endorsements, seek out references to leadership successes.  Which candidate has most effectively demonstrated leadership skills that have delivered significant, important accomplishments.  That’s the candidate who deserves your vote.

Florida – A Southern Perspective

13 06 2012

Forty-one years ago next month, my first wife and I moved to Gainesville where my first son was born.  My position as Assistant Director of the TBA Division of the Florida Farm Bureau provided introduction to the close knit, warm and friendly lifestyle of the agricultural community in Florida.  Many a noon found me at a huge kitchen table enjoying an enormous “dinner” with family, farmhands, and spur-of-the-moment guests like me.  Southern hospitality was introduced to me first hand by wonderful, down-to-earth, unassuming people.

I frequently observed at the time that I would never consider living south of Ocala.  There were just too many Northerners polluting the human environment.  Their crass, abrasive mannerisms and their haughty demeanor were offensive.  That ultimatum did not last long at all.  I soon found myself mired in a South Florida environment that seemed to be the worst of all worlds.  The average person would prefer not to see a Rembrandt at all rather than see one defaced by some vain and heartless boor who thought it would look better touched up with neon red and yellow stripes.

It took little time to succumb to the influence of apparently wealthy, successful, motivated “business people” from the New York metropolitan area.  They seemed to have the world on a string – complete control of their destinies.  Their lives appeared to be akin to walking through a green market and picking the best ears of corn, the reddest tomatoes, the ripest cantaloupe, and the freshest watermelon.  I learned to ignore the fingered and bruised culls that they left behind for others.  I coveted their success.

Before long, I convinced my family that we needed a piece of that pie and had to move back up north to make it happen.  It took little time to discover the quality of life sacrifice that was made in pursuit of professional achievement and success.  People laughed and ridiculed my slow pace, my casual speech patterns, and my friendly demeanor.  They expected me to be “chewed up and spit out” and did not hesitate to say so.  My effort to achieve success became little more than crude attempts to become the individual I loathed most, the person who would walk/climb/run over anyone who stood in his path.  Prosperity comes with a hefty price tag, especially in the New York metropolitan area.  While the mistake was immediately apparent, it took almost 15 years to rectify it.

Over the past 25 years many people have observed that, “Florida is not for me.  I’ve got to get out of this place.”  Their disillusionment typically emanates from a perceived failure to achieve the level of success they anticipated.  Their frustration and discouragement is easy to comprehend.  People rarely find a pot of gold at the end of a Florida rainbow unless that gold is measured in quality of life terms.  Sunshine, balmy weather, oceans, rivers, lakes, and all that goes with them must be the focal point.

Our history dates back to the mid-1800’s with only a few significant events preceding that time, unlike the rich and glorified history of other parts of our country.  With few notable exceptions (Clyde Butcher, the Highwaymen, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Ray Charles), Florida was passed over when artistic and literary talent was handed out.  There are precious few industrial or commercial businesses of size with Florida histories dating back more than 2 or 3 decades.  Our society is superficial and tends toward overbearing.  The “bluebloods” who have found this state rarely stay here for more than a few weeks at a time.

Just the same, people flock to Florida from all over the world with an unpleasant effect.  A man from Brooklyn once visited Vermont.  Smitten with the pristine beauty of mountains and meadows, forests and wildflowers, rivers and lakes, he purchased a ¼ acre of property and built a modest home.  Situated down an unpaved country lane with beautiful vistas spreading out from picture windows, the setting was idyllic.  Naturally swelling with the pride of his good fortune and anxious to tell others of his accomplishment, he invited friends and relatives to visit and share in his happiness.

When those same friends and relatives purchased ¼ acre lots next to his and built their “dream homes” next to his, the natural beauty was destroyed.  The path was widened and paved.  Then, the road was dug up once to install sewers and again to install underground utilities, leaving behind a sea of potholes and patches.  The quaint general store with gas pumps gave way to a Wal-Mart Super Store, and the gas pumps were replaced with a Shell mega-station, owned by corporate entities located thousands of miles away and managed by transplants with little knowledge of the community.  Bright yellow and red paint glistens in the harsh luminescence of 1,000 watt mercury vapor lights.  It’s no different than that person passing through the green market:  “Hooray with me and to hell with you!”

The coast of Florida is becoming one long megalopolis that stretches from the Keys to Pensacola on the west and the Keys to Jacksonville on the east side.  A web of interstates and high speed secondary roads crisscrosses the state, enabling travelers to reach their destinations without the time-consuming interference resulting from glances out the side windows of their vehicles.  The worst attributes of other parts of the country have found their way into Florida with the impact of a horde of grasshoppers.

The State of Florida, through the various water management districts has been working to eradicate exotic, invasive vegetation like Brazilian Pepper and Melaleuca, and reptiles like the Burmese Python.  Only over the past 10-15 years have Florida counties and cities begun to curb the spread of urban blight through creation of regional planning councils, comprehensive master plans, and tougher zoning.  Sadly, efforts to protect and preserve are being thwarted by economic issues that must also be addressed.

The first person to sound the alarm about exotic vegetation or non-indigenous reptiles was probably greeted with ennui.  Other pressing issues we faced had to take precedence over bushes/trees/snakes, but environmentalists eventually prevailed.  The time is now upon us to protect and preserve what remains of our unique state, but it must be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with our history, not the wishes of “Johnny-come-lately’s” and “NIMBY’s (Not In My Back Yard)” who seek to manipulate environmental standards for their own benefit.

Only those who remember the past can effectively reestablish it.

Memorial Day 2012

24 05 2012

Nearly every Saturday morning before sunrise, John and I pile our fly rods and assorted gear into Greeny, his “skinny water” boat and head out for the Indian River Lagoon.  There is one stop made at a convenience store for ice and two cups of coffee.  Typically, the parking lot, illuminated by intense lighting in the pump canopy, is empty.  On more than one occasion though, there has been an old, beat up, white Chevy van sitting in front of the entrance.  The van would simply blend into the background of any image if it wasn’t for a bumper sticker with an incredibly profound message.

Vietnam Service Ribbon

No words could express the meaning contained in the three vertical red stripes and the green borders set on a yellow background.  I cannot look at that simple image without a wealth of emotions rising up inside of me.

Continuing inside the store, the owner of the van was immediately identifiable.  Tall and thin with longish grey hair protruding from a baseball cap, he carried his slightly bent body with dignity.  His jeans, tee-shirt, and rough-hewn hands immediately identified him as a working man. His eyes, although clear, were deep and penetrating.  They were the eyes of someone who had seen too much.  When they met mine, I struggled to get out the words that came directly from my heart:  “Thank you for your service.”

As we approach the summer season with excitement and anticipation, take a moment to reflect upon those who made incredible sacrifices in order to protect and preserve the lives we cherish.  Cemeteries throughout the world are filled with the noble remains of those who gave their lives for you and me, for our sons and daughters, for our way of life.  Our streets, our communities are filled with those who bear the memories of battles fought, lives lost, and sorrow felt in distant lands.

Let us all reach out and humbly say, “Thank you for your service.”

Last chance to preserve Jupiter’s legacy

9 03 2012

It may be your last chance to preserve the legacy of Jupiter’s early settlers: Jupiter Lighthouse.


Think Gateway Arch, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument.

Those towering structures commemorate events that are remembrances of historic times, of cultural heritage. The majesty of those landmarks would be lost if the surrounding land was scarred with the proposed 700-plus foot long, 15-foot high retaining wall constructed of industrial grade vinyl, and the 1,391-foot-long breakwater barrier to public access that have been proposed for the lighthouse property.

Known as “Cato’s Bridge Beach,” a waterfront portion of lighthouse property on the west bank of the Intracoastal Waterway, extending north from Jupiter Inlet to Beach Road is a place where families have enjoyed a quick dip in crystal clear water for 50-plus years, where virtually every kid who grew up in the area could experience a rope swing.

This will be gone forever if you don’t stop proponents of the JILONA (Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area) Working Group’s thinly veiled effort to deny public access.

Stabilization of the shoreline and bluff is a reasonable goal.

A plan that excludes public access a plan that has the aesthetic appeal of an industrial park, is totally inconsistent with the wishes of the community.

A professional landscape architect with 30-plus years of experience suggests a more effective, lest costly solution: Install a staircase from the water’s edge to a picnic area at the top of the mound. Stabilize the embankment with plantings that are commonly used for that purpose. Reduce the breakwater to just the southernmost portion of the beachfront. That solution will be less intrusive to the archeological artifacts in the earthen mound, and will be more appealing visually.

It will also extend public access to future generations without sacrificing erosion control.

Formal objections to the JILONA plan have been voiced by:

Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council

Florida Inland Navigation District

Village of Tequesta

Town of Juno Beach

Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce

Martin County Board of County Commissioners

U.S. Congressman Rooney opposes the plan. Governor Scott initiated a review of the planning process and permit application. More than 1,700 people have expressed support of our efforts.

The Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) permit application has been denied twice.

Responding to the latest approval attempt, the Southern District DEP office opted out of the process by classifying it a “Heightened Public Concern Project.”

Governor Scott and his Cabinet will make the final decision regarding the outcome.

Public efforts to stop the JILONA plan have been successful to this point. Add your voice to those who are fighting to Save Cato’s Bridge Beach.

Send an email message to: Karl.Rasmussen@DEP.State.FL.US

Tell him you want the Palm Beach County ERM application #50-0306206-001 for the JILONA property: Permanently Denied.

Tell him you want to preserve access to this small piece of “Old Jupiter” for your children, and your children’s children.

The Jupiter Courier Newsweekly, Vol. 1, Issue 14, March 8, 2012