JFK bunker in Florida to be taken over by Palm Beach County, with cities' help
By HANNAH MORSE | Palm Beach Post | Published: March 20, 2021
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — President
The port commission unanimously supported extending the county’s existing lease on the island, set to expire in 2024, and expanding it to include five acres where the historical properties lie.
The county plans to restore the historic properties and “operate it as a low-impact, educational, historical and cultural facility and a passive park,” Call said, noting the county would not seek to change the zoning or land use allowed.
“Nobody wants to see that island become Ferris Wheel City,” Riviera Beach Councilwoman
Port commissioners want the county to formally work with the surrounding municipalities — the city of
“We’re all reasonable,”
There may be strength in numbers when it comes to seeking financial support for the restoration project, Fiers added.
Who will manage Peanut Island’s historic properties has been in question since 2017, when the
At that time, port commissioners wanted the county to take over the lease. But then
Just a few months ago, in December, it was all but certain
That pitch fell apart as the county, town of
“There is a time for redevelopment and a time for restoration,” county parks director Call said. “The historic nature of that site really begs for restoration.”
“We want to ensure that there’s inclusion, that there’s diversity, that we have an opportunity to have a seat at the table because we made sure by virtue of getting involved that our community was not left out or left behind,” he said.
The city proposed to restore the historic properties, but also construct a new facility that could host meetings or small events, including an aquarium that featured the flora and fauna of the
Evans envisioned weddings on the island where guests would be ferried to the marina’s event space for a reception, or working the bunker into a wider historical tour of the Kennedys’ presence in
Development partners would work with the city to construct, renovate and manage the facilities to recoup the cost of renovation, costing the taxpayers “next to nothing,” Evans said.
“Our intention was to do something world-class, something we can all be proud of,” he added.
But knowing the county wanted to limit the allowable use on the island, Evans said it wasn’t worth the “inherent risk” to take the lead on a project.
“There was not a movement with regards to any deviation from the thought of historic preservation and the restoration of those facilities,” Evans said.
He added: “To be good neighbors, the best thing to do is for the county to take the lead, with the caveat that there’s so much potential and we cannot look ourselves in the face and say we’ve done the best we can do to make that a unique experience for all persons that would visit the area.”
This wasn’t the first time development dreams on
The port has owned
A two-story, Colonial Revival-style house built in 1936 operated as a
"I can’t wait for the day where we can cut the ribbon and say, 'Hey, no matter how we ended up getting here, we were able to restore these facilities and preserve history,'" Evans said.