Market Research Record – City Harbor, the organization proposing a top-tier marina project for West Palm Beach, has vigorously defended its vision amid mounting opposition and doubts about endorsement from a neighboring city. The primary concern voiced against the plan revolves around fears that the proposed marina on Flagler Drive waterfront would predominantly serve as a harbor for oversized, opulent yachts, obstructing views and hindering public access.
City Harbor refuted these concerns in an official letter, emphasizing their commitment to offering an accessible marina for everyone, not just the affluent. The marina is envisaged to provide all, particularly the underprivileged, access to Florida’s waters. The company plans to achieve this through an assortment of nonprofits and vendors providing activities including eco-tourism, water taxis, fishing, sightseeing, snorkeling, diving, and children’s education. The firm maintains that the marina would be a community asset, offering a gateway to enjoy West Palm Beach’s waterfront and its surrounding natural beauty.
Mayor Keith James voiced a similar sentiment on July 10, justifying the city’s decision to negotiate with City Harbor for the $16 million marina’s construction and management. He ensured that the project is not meant to be exclusive or block the waterfront and public access.
Despite these reassurances, public resistance to the plan remains significant. Residents like Jeffrey Leach and Ruth Weimar have voiced their concerns and opposition to the city commission, citing limited public access and obstructed waterfront views as potential downsides.
One of the key selling points for City Harbor was its endorsement by various groups, including the Palm Beach International Boat Show’s organizing company. However, some confusion has surfaced around the support it claimed to have received from Riviera Beach. Jonathan Evans, City Manager of Riviera Beach, has refuted claims of Riviera Beach endorsing City Harbor’s project, stating the city was unaware of the project until its public announcement.
In response, City Harbor produced a recommendation letter from Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie Felder, praising City Harbor for their management of Riviera Beach’s marina and recommending them for the West Palm Beach project. Despite this, Evans clarifies that this recommendation does not imply Riviera Beach’s endorsement of all of City Harbor’s undertakings.
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Christy Fox, whose district includes the marina’s proposed site, maintains her primary concern to be the lack of public engagement in the project, regardless of endorsements from Riviera Beach. Fox had previously voted against starting negotiations for a marina.