Post endorsements: In North Palm Beach, choose Bickel

Like most of the county’s smaller municipalities, the Village of North Palm Beach is going through a transition.

The North Palm Beach Golf & Country Club that is the village’s crown jewel is losing some of its luster. The old way of communicating news about issues and services is outmoded. And an “antiquated” U.S. 1 corridor is need of a more urban facelift and renewal.

Susan Bickel

North Palm Beach native Susan Bickel, who is running for the Group 2 seat, has lived in five different neighborhoods in the village, raised a family there and sat on the North Palm Beach Planning Commission for four years.

The Post endorses Bickel, 48, to replace Vice Mayor Doug Bush and maintain a “proactive” approach to village government.

Bickel says she wants to village to retain its “quaint” character, but adds that a “complete country club re-do” is long overdue. She added that before making a decision, residents need more information on the proposed narrowing of the U.S. 1 corridor from six lanes to four, and beautifying it with a new streetscape design for pedestrians and bicycles. “We’re still lacking in communicating on important issues with residents,” she said. “I want to change that.”

Bickel also wants to bolster Parks and Facilities by upgrading the village pool to reflect the strong swimming program, and improving fields for soccer so village kids don’t have to go to neighboring Palm Beach Gardens.

Stephen B. Keller, 37, is challenging Bickel for the Group 2 seat. Keller, director of operations for Storm Smart SouthEast Florida, agrees the village needs to more quickly address issues like building a new clubhouse and better, more consistent communication with residents.

He would also put more emphasis on attracting small business when adopting the master plan to redevelop the U.S. 1 corridor. “I think the business community kind of fell to the wayside in all of this,” he said, adding that three vacant spots on the Business Advisory Board need to be filled.

Both agreed that the village will be aided by incoming village manager, Andy Lukasik, who is leaving a similar post in Jupiter.

Bickel’s history and service gives her a broader knowledge of village issues that we expect will make her more effective at getting the job done.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.