Mark Gregg’s Gotcha Moment Backfires, Part 1
Councilman Mark Gregg’s gotcha moment versus Vice Mayor Henry Rosenthal during the July 14, 2022, Village Council meeting backfired, and in a big way.
Not only did his carefully rehearsed setup fail, but Mark had little to offer in the way of his own solutions to ongoing problems plaguing the Fills.
The public has been crystal clear. The vast majority of us do not want activity along both sides the two and a half mile stretch of US 1 affectionately called the Fills. No parking, swimming, partying, pooping, cutting the mangroves or crushing seagrass beds. So, the question then becomes: How do we accomplish that.
A simple, straightforward, and doable plan.
Pete, Mark, Buddy, and David’s plan.
After wasting more than $55,000 this year with a consultant’s plan to turn the Fills into a real-deal destination spot along our environmentally sensitive American Scenic Highway, complete with bathrooms, grilling areas and pavilions, the public roared back: “Not no, but heck no!”
So, in June, a new plan came forward under Mayor Pete Bacheler’s leadership that includes:
With the introduction of legal parking with time limits and other activities in several areas along the Fills, “No Swimming,” “No Picnics,” “No Cutting Mangroves,” and “No Urination or Defecation” signs will need to be installed and a program established for handling those who disregard the signage. Garbage cans are a must. The lack of bathrooms will need to be addressed.
Ignoring the issues, sticking to status quo.
It was an ugly scene, to be sure, Mark set up the play, David Webb censored information that was germane to the conversation — (and wouldn’t allow Henry to cite an email response from FDOT), while Buddy Pinder threw his arms up exclaiming “We inherited this mess!”
Mark, a loyal reader of our ICA articles and updates, who seems envious of our appreciation for Henry (“They love you there. They have your picture up and everything!” Mark said), decided he would try to corner Henry on the issue of the cost of removing the unsightly cones.
“Henry, if you convince me, I’ll make a motion to take down the cones tonight,” Mark suggested disingenuously, only to go into an in-depth, “heavily researched” investigation into the Fills that got us nowhere closer to fixing the problem.
What ensued was a thinly veiled attempt to make Henry appear unprepared and the merits of his plan for the Fills without merit.
First up, Mark asked Henry for a financial analysis of the cost of “his” plan. You mean, the cost of removing the cones? It was an absurd question, of course. Henry did not take the bait.
But we’ll juxtapose Mark’s own voting history on the financial matters of the Fills. Ready?
Not only was no financial analysis submitted by staff when they presented their latest plan at the June 2, 2022, Council meeting, Mark did not request one before voting to install guardrails from one end of the Fills to the other on both sides of the highway.
You read that correctly. Demanding a financial analysis from Henry, Mark and the other three Councilmen had not once provided costs for the plan they voted in favor of.
Hypocritical or just a bad cad move? You decide.
In fact, Mark, Pete, David, and Buddy did not ask one question related to the costs of more than 40 improved parking spaces, kayak launches, turn lanes, a new boat ramp, moving the entire Heritage Traillandscaping, and staff time to oversee their new “This Is Not A Park” park.
The only Councilman to ask about the cost of this “New Plan the Public Doesn’t Support” at the June 2 meeting was… wait for it… wait for it… Henry.
Mark did come up with solutions – for the party-goers.
In criticizing Henry, Mark gave visitors tips on how to keep the party going. A few of his nuggets: Park on the right-of-way (for free!), don’t pay your $200 parking tickets (we won’t go after you!).
“I was shocked to learn that it is not illegal to park on the right of way as long as you’re not creating a safety hazard … it’s okay to do that,” Mark asserted. “If someone wants to drive down there and park in a way that it doesn’t block the bike path or obstruct traffic or create a site hazard, then it’s not illegal parking and we can’t write them a ticket.”
It’s not illegal to park on the right of way? Wait a minute! It most certainly is illegal to park when FDOT-approved “No Parking” signs are in the right of way. So, haven’t all those “No Parking” signs currently lining the fills been approved by FDOT? Who would have installed the signs without permission from FDOT?
Mark’s second bit of advice was even more daring.
Pointing to a stack of unpaid, $200 parking tickets, Mark said, “When we write a ticket, we rely on the honesty of the violator to pay that. If they don’t pay it, it goes into this pile. We don’t take them to court. We don’t have a collection agency that hounds them for payment … Those that get one of these (parking tickets) they throw it away, and they can.”
Shouldn’t Mark Gregg, as a retired attorney, understand what is lacking in the Village parking ticket enforcement process? Why not offer a solution? It can’t be that difficult.
Even worse, the now-retired attorney offered tips to partygoers for how to avoid the town’s efforts to curtail their activity at the highway-turned-impromptu-park.
We have some suggestions.
The Village code Sec. 50-63. – Civil penalty for illegal parking on U.S. 1 right-of-way and Sec. 50-65. – Prohibition of or restrictions on parking vehicles; signs to be erected; penalties. was changed several years ago to increase the “No Parking” penalty to $200 ($250 if not paid within 30 days).
Sec. 50-63 also provides for towing, if the vehicle is not removed within six hours. Change six hours to one hour and have the vehicles towed. That will surely put a stop to illegal parking.
Stay tuned. More to come in Part 2 of this two-part series. Click here