The mayor of West Palm Beach delivered her annual "State of the City" address Wednesday.
The address was made during the January breakfast of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches at the Convention Center.
The point of the address was to review the successes of the past year and to share the vision for the upcoming year.
This is Mayor Jeri Muoio’s second-to-last address, she is term-limited and a new mayor will be elected March 2019.
Muoio highlighted the city’s 3.6 percent unemployment rate, down from the almost 10 percent Muoio inherited.
Muoio reports that she delivered on a campaign promise to create a business district, now called the “Flagler Financial District."
To date, Muoio says the district now has 232 firms. This year, the city plans on growing 12 new businesses with the help of a $180,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
Muoio called upon her colleagues to bring more "Class-A" office space to West Palm Beach. Muoio says its necessary, given the strong desire to relocate and what she suspects will be the impact of the new tax law, cutting the business tax.
New projects announced include the “Trolley Tracker” and the creation of the “Office of Public Life."
The office will ensure all decision made by the commission, be evaluated based on public health, sustainability, pedestrian-friendliness, and the creation of safe and comfortable connections between neighborhoods.
In the next year, Muoio also plans on working on these projects:
- "Banyan Street Transformation” will bridge the currently divided downtown and northwest neighborhoods.
- The "Banyan Hub," a public-private partnership to create a social hub with amenities like public meeting spaces, micro-apartments and flexible parking at the Old Banyan garage.
- “Clematis Streetscape”: investing $2 million to spruce up Clematis Street.
- The Datura-Evernia Plaza project will reconfigure the three to four hundred blocks to create a public plaza to accommodate outdoor dining and recreation.
- Re-imagining downtown alleys and turning them into pedestrian malls.
- Redesigning the waterfront promenade on Flagler Drive to make it more people friendly.
- Putting a plan together to redesign South Dixie Highway.
Mayor leaves out crime, Brightline issues from speech
According to records kept by the Palm Beach Post, the city saw 27 homicides in 2017, the highest during the mayor's term in office.
Commissioner Keith Jones, who is running for mayor, says Muoio should have made a mention of it. “As you give the state of any organization, you have to share the bad with the good, so that the people will understand that you do recognize that we have some work and that we are working on them.”
When asked why there was no mention about the crime, and if it was intentional Mayor Muoio said, "You know I have 25 minutes and there’s only so much you can put into a speech in 25 minutes, and so we did talk about people are safe on our streets, but yea that certainly was not planned."
Also not discussed was a promise to hold Brightline’s feet to the fire. The city has been critical of Brightline for not having the quiet zones in place.
However it is worth noting that during a media tour before Brightline’s launch, the mayor was absent, protesting the delay. She also met with Brightline leaders the day before to discuss the issue.