Editorial: Old School Square deal could be costly for Delray Beach

Editorials from The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board are the opinions of the Board, not of the Post newsroom.

City of Delray Beach takes step back by negotiating with former managers of Old School Square.
City of Delray Beach takes step back by negotiating with former managers of Old School Square.

The Delray Beach City Commission accepted a settlement offer from the nonprofit that once managed Old School Square. The decision was no surprise. What's disturbing is how the city is moving forward in working with the Old School Square Center for the Arts, Inc., the nonprofit that had been fired by the previous commission.

Returning control of Old School Square to a group that failed to produce required audits to justify the expenditures of city community redevelopment agency funding, while undertaking unannounced reconstruction projects on property it didn't own, would be a mistake and shouldn't be Delray Beach's idea of good government.

Old School Square is city property, and problems with how the nonprofit operated the cultural center led to the loss of its decades-long management contract in the first place. The 3-2 vote in 2021 that forced out Old School Square Center for the Arts, Inc. prompted a lawsuit against the city and a divisive and polarizing 18-month campaign by the nonprofit's supporters to regain control of Old School Square.

2021 Termination vote: 'They gave us the death penalty': Old School Square stunned by city's decision to end lease

More: After audit finds problems, Old School Square arts group extends olive branch to Delray Beach

The new commission, on a 4-0 vote, opened the door for a do-over. The city's Downtown Development Authority now has the contract to run Old School Square but commissioners seem determined to re-establish some kind of partnership between the city, the DDA and the ousted group. "I clearly recognize that Old School Square did make some mistakes here but I don't think they're fatal mistakes," Commissioner Adam Frankel said after the settlement. "I would like to seek consensus.... "

Seeking consensus is one thing. This rush to peace, though, comes at too high a price.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: New Old School Square deal brings familiar problems for Delray Beach