More questions surface about Lake Worth Beach and Casino project

Inspector General to continue oversight

What were taxpayers promised? What will they be getting from the Lake Worth Beach and Casino project?

More questions surface about the money and intentions.

The project was budgeted for eleven million dollars. Five million was for the beachfront part and six million was for restoring the historic casino building.

Altogether, it's supposed to revitalize the area with restaurants and a nightlife. But some people think the plan doesn't add up, like Wes Blackman.

Blackman spends a lot of time blogging about Lake Worth. He had a feeling something wasn't right with the city's planned beach restoration and casino project. So he filed a complaint with the Palm Beach County Inspector General.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions and the city just needs to be completely transparent," he says.

His suspicions were confirmed. The Inspector General found errors in how the project was classified and appraised. The Inspector General is now continuing oversight to make sure things are done right.

Blackman believes the errors were made intentionally, for political reasons.

Kathleen Margoles, the the city's project manager, says, "There was no intent on the part of the city to do anything illegal." She adds that the process was very public.

Sheryl Steckler, Palm Beach County's Inspector General, didn't look into intention. However, she did say, "We asked the city to take a look at this, because, if we found errors in just these 2 areas, what else could there be potential problems with?"

Lake Worth City Commissioner Scott Maxwell thinks there's another problem. He says the project will now require an extra two million dollars in parking lot lights to bring them up to code.

"Somebody at City Hall knew that these parking lot lights were going to be an additional cost," he says. "And they did not disclose that information to the commission."

"When we received the first cost estimate... that was shared with the commission and the public," argues Margoles.

Now, the Inspector General will continue reviewing contracts for this multi-million dollar project. Blackman just hopes there will be more openness.

He says, "I hope this is a wake up call."

Lake Worth will discuss budgeting of this project at Thursday's meeting.
 

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