What do Boca Raton residents want most for the future? The city wants to know.

What do Boca Raton residents want most for the future? The city wants to know.

Do you live in Boca Raton and want to contribute ideas about what the downtown should look like? The city wants your ideas Thursday evening during a public discussion.

Like a puzzle, the city has acquired key pieces in the last few years. There’s the new Brightline station, and the announcement of the planned Center for Arts and Innovation, for example. But what’s still missing is a way to connect the new and old components.

So at 6 p.m. Thursday, the city’s community advisory panel is hosting an open forum at the downtown library to discuss, among other things:

  • Rethinking the downtown district and surrounding areas west of Dixie Highway.
  • Re-envisioning the government center.
  • Forming and implementing ideas to entice people to see the city’s Brightline station as more than just a stop along their journey to another city and instead hop off to enjoy the downtown area.
  • Suggestions for new or improved city services.

“This is the beginning of the conversation. We’re going to be presenting some ideas that we came up with from our board, as well as speaking to residents in the community,” said Linda Marenus, the board’s chair.

A primary area of focus is the land stretching west from the corner of Dixie Highway and Palmetto Park Road containing the city hall, the library, the Brightline station and, of course, the shuffleboard courts.

“I haven’t had a lot of community conversations where they want keep the shuffleboard courts,” said Marc Wigder, the chair of the Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency, laughing.

Marenus said the ideas being presented will fall into the following categories: events and entertainment, public art, government services and amenities, recreation and sports, retail shopping, attractions, housing, and connectivity and mobility.

Specific ideas in the events and entertainment category, for example, could be more farmers’ markets or concerts, Marenus said.

The goal is to help guide the City Council’s decision-making moving forward, she said.

There have been several events, through the years, that drew residents’ feedback. One of the gatherings, in March 2022, brought discussions about downtown improvements, where people expressed disdain for increased traffic, noise and lack of walkability.

Marenus encourages residents to bring their best ideas to the community conversation.

“What would make it a more vibrant area for them? What would attract them to live or visit this area?” she said.

For Wigder, that’s always looked like crafting a transit-oriented development that blends with the existing environment and creates an area where people don’t have to drive so much.

While he’s not certain what specifically that connectivity will look like — a pedestrian bridge, perhaps — he does know community engagement at all parts of the process will be necessary.

“It’s one of many opportunities for a little bit more brainstorming,” he said. “There is a sense of what’s possible.”