Undergrounding of Utilities Town Update

The Undergrounding of Utilities Project Team has completed 98% of the master planning process with the project designs for Phase 1 north and south nearly complete. The Master Plan has been presented to both the Civic Association and Citizens’ Association as well numerous community, professional and neighborhood organizations. 

The Underground Utilities Task Force voted to approve the Master Plan and made a motion requesting the Master Plan be presented to Town Council for their feedback. The Town Council will be reviewing the Undergrounding Project Master Plan at their July Town Council meeting.

The Town has requested cost reduction credits from FPL due to multiple public safety issues with overhead lines and differences in cost calculations between the Town and FPL.   FPL has agreed with some of the Town’s requests.  Cost savings could range anywhere from $3.3 million to $6 million per FPL.  The Town is working with FPL on completing the request and securing the credits to reduce the project cost.  Stay tuned for more updates as this process moves forward!

Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Cymonie Rowe agreed with the Town and dismissed the Goldmacher lawsuit which challenged the undergrounding referendum ballot language. 

In her judgment, the Honorable Rowe found that the ballot language for the undergrounding bond referendum was valid and the Town is permitted to issue bonds as approved to fund the project. The judge in this case stated:

“Defendant’s (Town of Palm Beach) Motion is GRANTED as to all Counts of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, with findings that the ballot language is neither misleading nor inconsistent, that there is no violation of Ordinance 90.141, that the bond referendum is neither illegal nor void, that the ballot measure is neither illegal nor void, and that the Town is permitted to issue bonds as approved pursuant to the ballot referendum.”

The Requests for Information (RFI) have been received by the Town and Project Team members have been working with respondents to review the details of the proposals. The Town, under the direction of the UUTF and Town Council, sought RFIs from additional telecommunication companies to increase competition and identify other companies who had interest in providing telecommunication services to the Town. 

The Underground Utilities Task Force requested the Town explore the costs of adding additional conduit for telecommunications utilities. Other municipalities have added additional conduit with their undergrounding projects to provide the infrastructure needed for future communications upgrades. Adding extra conduit along major thoroughfares in Town could help Palm Beach join the growing list of “smart cities” who utilize the technology to improve public safety, wireless access and transportation improvements.  The Task Force will be discussing the additional conduit at the June 9th meeting.

Captain Ann-Marie Taylor of the Palm Beach Police Department provided a report on how the police department is working to minimize traffic impacts in Town. The Police Department works with Public Works as well as individual construction companies on coordinating road closures and a street by street traffic plan during construction projects.

Utilizing a series of communication tools, including social media and emails, the Public Works Department is engaged with the community in communicating future traffic impacts and alternative routes for residents to consider. 

The Undergrounding of Utilities Project Transportation Management Plan has received input from the Police Department and public safety officials will remain involved in how the Transportation Management Plan will be implemented during the undergrounding project.

Working with FPL the Town has been able to adjust the design plan for the south end to eliminate two switch cabinets. As a result, $54,000 was saved and two switch cabinets were removed from the project.

FPL is pursuing additional cost saving measures with the Town and is willing to work with the appropriate agencies to secure additional credits for the Town. If approved, these credits would reduce the undergrounding project total costs.

The Town Council voted to add Nicki McDonald to the Underground Utilities Task Force, filling the seat vacated by Mr. Wilbur Ross. Ms. McDonald is President of the Board of the Lake Towers Condominium Association and recently oversaw an undergrounding of utilities project for her condo and adjacent homes.

The June 2017 Underground Utilities Task Force meeting was moved to Friday, June 9th at 9:00 am in Town Council Chambers.