The city of West Palm Beach hosted an interactive feedback session Saturday afternoon to find out what people think about the Flagler Shore project so far.
"We feel that we get better information when you have the one-on-ones and you’re able to talk about specific aspects of the project. You get better quality feedback," said Chris Roog, director of economic development for the city of West Palm Beach.
For the last two months, the northbound lanes of Flagler Drive from Lakeview to Banyan have been converted into a walking and biking area as part of a city experiment.
"We love the idea and we use it all the time," Nicola Murray said.
"I don’t like Flager Shore. I like Flagler Drive," Janet Geary said.
Instead of a traditional meeting with public comment when one person stands up to talk at a time, the city held a "Think Tank" Saturday.
"We’re asking things like how did you get to Flagler Shore? What are your favorite things about Flagler Shore? What do you want to see more of? What have we missed? What can make this space better?" Roog said.
Several booths staffed by individual city employees gave everyone the opportunity to directly communicate their thoughts and ideas about Flagler Shore.
"We just love it. We’ve got a four year old and we’re very active and we run on the waterfront and we cycle and we skate," Murray said. "And she’s got a scooter, so we come down here on the weekend and it’s a really safe spot because it’s made it so wide."
A full report will be put together at the end of the project in March using this feedback as well as other information and data collected throughout the project.
That will go to the mayor and city commission, who will then consider how best to redevelop the waterfront.
"We learned some things," Mayor Jeri Muoio said. "We learned that traffic is going to be just fine in two lanes. We also learned that people want to walk by the water. They don’t want to walk there, so if we do anything, we’ll have all the walking and biking in this area and just do green grass or whatever over there."
Several people confronted Mayor Muoio during the event asking why the city hasn't directly contacted people nearby Flagler Shore for comments.
"What you haven’t learned is what the people that live here want," one man said.
"Oh you don’t think so? You don’t think we’ve learned that? What are we [doing] here?" Mayor Muoio said.
The city also hosted a focus group with 15 people who had emailed in their thoughts on Flagler Shore. There are plans to hold another focus group in February.
The city has already collected some preliminary data about Flagler Shore. There haven’t been any car crashes in that section of road since the project started compared to two within the last year. Also, the number of cars driving through decreased by more than two thousand cars from September to October.
"The traffic situation right now is appalling," Geary said. "I hit the curb because I was trying to not be so close to the car oncoming. I got two flat tires, had to be towed to a dealership and have my tires repaired. Fortunately, I did not break the rims."
"We’re in season right now. It’s a Saturday night and if you look behind me, you’ll see the traffic is not dreadful. It’s not dangerous," said Lou Rodriguez. "I think the data will show that it’s not a detriment to repurpose the lanes for pedestrians and cyclists."
People can continue to email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.