News Column

Jupiter considers $500,000 in upgrades for council chambers

June 2, 2014

By Bill DiPaolo, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.



June 02--JUPITER -- A $500,000 plan to upgrade the town's council chambers includes new computers, an improved sound system and $790 chairs for each council member and staff.

"The entire council chambers is outdated and behind the times. The council has no access to data that is needed in today's environment," said Town Manager Andy Lukasik.

The plan includes updating the 135 seats for the public, a new projector system, replacing the floor and installing new computer software. The work likely would take about five months. The council chambers would be closed for about a month while the work was being completed, said Tom Driscoll, Jupiter's director of engineering and public works.

Councilman Jim Kuretski agreed that improvements to the chambers are needed. But $500,000 is way too much, he said.

He noted that unlike Jupiter, members of the Palm Beach County Commission and Palm Beach Gardens City Council have individual computers built into their stations at the dais. Jupiter residents sometimes complain about not hearing speakers and not seeing presentations, he said.

"Sure, I can see making some technological improvements. But I can't imagine spending that much money being justified," Kuretski said.

The improvements should be approved and are long overdue, said Jupiter resident Bud Zisson, who regularly attends council meetings.

"I often can't hear the public when they speak or the council from the dais. I have to read their lips. Jupiter's chambers are antiquated and definitely need to be fixed," he said.

The proposal calls for taking out the old dais where the town council and staff sit during meetings. The new dais would have individual computers, a new sound system, overhead projectors and podiums for speakers. Nineteen new seats for council members and staff -- at $790 each -- are in the plan.

Total cost for the proposed improvements would be about $494,000, according to the proposal posted on the town's website.

The council is scheduled to hear a preliminary proposal on Tuesday. No vote is planned.

"In these days of high technology presentations, Jupiter needs to be brought up to date," said Pat Rutter, vice-chair of the town's planning and zoning commission, who favors updating the chambers.

Corey Crowley, a resident of Jupiter River Estates who has attended several recent meetings concerning the new recreation field at Jupiter Christian School, said he did not have a problem hearing speakers or seeing their presentations.

"If you asked me to find 10 more important things to spend $500,000 on, I could find 11. This is something I think would help the council and staff, not the residents," Crowley said.

To view the proposal, go to jupiter.fl.us

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(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com

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Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)


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