Newsletter: June 20th, 2022

Casale Doubles Down on the Boca Museum

With the first public Charette on the subject of Old School Square on the horizon for June 23, Commissioner Juli Casale put a motion on the table at the June 14 Commission meeting to begin new negotiations with The Boca Museum. This time, it is for a long-term agreement to manage the Cornell.

The Cornell Museum remains dark after the 3-2 vote last August by Casale, Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Shirley Johnson to terminate the former OSS management’s lease.

The first resolution to enter into an agreement with Boca Museum was voted down in the Commission meeting April 5 of this year. The Boca Museum was to be paid $125,000 by the city of Delray Beach to operate the Cornell for first six months of an 18-month term, with an option to renew. Commissioner Johnson, Boylston and Frankel voted against it.

Commissioner Adam Frankel asked how the Boca Museum was being brought up again since it had been an item on the agenda which was voted down. Under the rules, the topic cannot be voted on again unless the prevailing party brought it up in the next meeting, which did not happen.

City Attorney, Gelin’s razor thin reasoning for going forward with the discussion, which allowed for a vote to be taken on the matter, was that it was not exactly the same but rather a hybrid situation. This was based on the fact that City Manager Terrance Moore combined or was advised to combine a discussion and direction for a collaboration between the Boca Museum, the City and a small, family owned publishing business called Visual Adjectives—a company championed by Commissioner Shirley Johnson.

Johnson had invited Visual Adjectives to make a presentation at the Commission's May OSS Workshop. Twelve days earlier on May 5, its owners submitted paperwork to the State of Florida for non-profit status under the name of Art & Culture Society, Inc.

Upset that Visual Adjectives was unable to make a full presentation during the short Public Comments period prior to the Workshop, Johnson then successfully lobbied to have the company present its ideas to the Commission on June 14.

During the Visual Adjectives’ presentation, it was revealed that Moore, Johnson and Casale had met or spoken with Visual Adjectives about the Boca Museum prior the Commission meeting.

"I was waiting for the Charette on the 23rd," Michelle Lawrence, of Visual Adjectives, told Casale after Casale's questions about differences she saw between the Visual Adjectives presentation and their prior conversation.

"I had to add this after we came to you for the first time," Lawrence answered in response to Casale. "Basically, when I spoke with you before it was with the contingency that the City, I'm sorry, the Boca Museum would be here to do their-- and I am willing to work with them if I have to because it is a city owned property."

"An RFP (Request for Proposal) is the most transparent way to go, if Boca wants to do that, " said Commission Ryan Boylston. "...It (Casale's motion) has three votes because another small business is getting pressured to partner with them? And now we're going to re-consider that and move on?" Later he asked, “What’s the urgency?”

Boylston also noted that both City Attorney Gelin and staff had recommended holding a Charette, possibly several, and then go to a Request for Proposal before negotiating with any other entity, "Not piece-mealing this."

"I don't have a selected organization," Casale told Boylston at one point during the debate, during which she read a long list of the Boca Museum's accomplishments.

It was obvious that Johnson did.

"I think that collaboration is key here," said Johnson. "I spoke with Mr. Moore, what is it really going to mean having this on the agenda... So, I think this partnership is a win/win."

The strategy to include Visual Adjectives in the negotiations paid off - sealing the deal for Johnson to flip back to the Casale and Petrolia’s Boca Museum camp.

Casale's motion passed. Casale, Petrolia and Johnson voting Yes. Commissioners Boylston and Frankel, voting No.

"The OSS campus must be functional," said Casale, who has filed for re-election to her Commission seat. "It must showcase the Best of Delray so we have an opportunity with the Boca Museum.

The Charette for ideas on the future of Old School Square is still scheduled for Thursday, June 23 at 6 pm at the Old School Square Fieldhouse.

For More Information:

Best Regards,

The Friends Of Delray Board

Judy Mollica - President

Steve English - Treasurer

Gregg Weiss - Secretary

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