NEW: Lake Worth no longer just a quirky city with problems, mayor says

Lake Worth has moved beyond years of distrust and fear of the future, and is no longer just a quirky city with a lot of issues, a spirited Mayor Pam Triolo said Thursday night at her annual State of the City address.

“We’re honest about our problems … and do not give up until the job is done,” Triolo said at a packed Lake Worth Casino ballroom during her 70-minute remarks. “But we still own quirky with a capital ‘Q.”

To illustrate her point, Triolo cited the following:

• In 2012 — her first year in office — taxable evaluation of all Lake Worth properties was $990 million. That number rose to $1.6 billion in 2017 — a 60 percent increase.

• From 2009-12, the Publix on North Dixie Highway was the only real private sector development. Since then, the city has seen $250 million in work.

• In 2011, there were 2,200 vacant foreclosures and abandoned properties. Last year, that number was below 500.

• Crime is down 13 percent in Lake Worth the first six months of 2017.

• In 2017, $13.5 million worth of road work began in the city. Lake Worth has $126 million of infrastructure investment either just completed, currently underway or planned for the next three years.

“I’m so pleased with the progress we’re making,” Triolo said. “We’re creating a financial, culturally and environmentally sustainable Lake Worth. We are turning back the clock on years of benign neglect.”

She also pointed to the city’s electric utility department and how well it handled Hurricane Irma in September. “We beat (Florida Power & Light) in back to service by almost a full day,” she said, adding that system improvements and outside contractors helped.

Triolo mentioned several housing projects underway in the city, including The One, a 14-unit, four-story condo that’s scheduled to be built at South Palmway and Lake Avenue; Banyan Court Apartments, a three-story complex on North A Street and Lake Cove Community, a development off A Street North and 19th Avenue.

“These businesses have chosen Lake Worth and they are expressing confidence in Lake Worth,” Triolo said.

She also highlighted the Street Painting Festival that helps to secure the city’s status as a real arts community and how the CANVAS Outdoor Museum Show will return later this year. “There’s always something happening in Lake Worth,” Triolo said.

Everyone knows Lake Worth has several issues, and Triolo did address the main one.

She said although crime may be down in Lake Worth, prostitution and drug overdoses still happen on the city’s main thoroughfares, spurred by unscrupulous sober home operators.

“It’s all tied to illegal drugs,” she said. “The availability of cheap drugs attracts thousands to the area from across the country. We will continue to apply pressure for change.”

In 2018, Lake Worth will reach a tipping point, Triolo said. “We now have the ability to come together to re-assess where we are and to create that vision — our vision — for moving this city forward,” she said. “We can never be satisfied with the status quo. We must ask ourselves…what are our next steps on the path to a better city?”

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