SWAT Team in Mission Bay

Update: Readers tell us the situation has resolved safely, though it will take an hour or more for life to return to normal.


baybreeze
Several readers notified us of heavy police activity in the Harbour Springs and Baybreeze section of Mission Bay, west of 441 on the south side of Glades Road.

There is some indication from the Sheriff’s office that a man is a danger to himself, intoxicated, armed and he has locked himself in his home. Readers have reported to us that they’ve seen as many as 15-20 police cars. One reader said 30 cars, and multiple readers mentioned the SWAT team. Some residents may have been evacuated. Two readers told us that police told them to stay inside their homes due to the danger of gunshots.
harboursprings
We also received this from Palm Beach County Alerts:

***WEST BOCA*** BARRICADED SUSPECT — Harbour Springs @ Mission Bay (address withheld for officer safety & scene integrity) — ‪#‎PBSO‬ & ‪#‎PBCFR‬ onscene of a domestic incident, suspect refusing to comply w/ orders, PBSO trying to evacuate area houses, SWAT & K9 onscene

We will update this story as we learn more.

US-441 Improvements Coming?

441-limits
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working on plans to improve US-441 (State Road 7). They’re looking specifically at the stretch from Glades Road in West Boca down to Sample Road in Broward County. FDOT is making a presentation to the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization on Thursday at 9 am, which is considering whether to endorse the plan:
mpo-endorse
The plan recommends (in bureaucratic language of course):

Context Sensitive Alternative with multimodal solutions
– Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
– Transit stop infrastructure and access improvements
– Intersection improvements to improve traffic flow
Transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O) initiatives
– Traffic signal system operations
– Traveler information and incident management
– Transit service and operations

A lot of the discussion deals with “transit” which is another word for buses. Palm Tran and BCT (Broward County Transit) are mentioned by name in the document we reviewed.
441-context
The biggest change we see in pictures like the one above are the “Premium Bus Stop.” While much of the focus is on transit, there are some minor intersection improvements in the conversation, and most are in West Boca. This may be a smaller part of the document but it looks like a much bigger chunk of money.
441-intersections
The plans would add or expand turn lanes at Marina (SW 18th), Sandalfoot, Judge Winikoff, Palmetto Park, Boca Woods, and Glades Road. Some of these make little sense to us. For example, the plan says to “add a westbound right-turn lane” at Palmetto Park Road. There is already a long right-turn lane there and we’ve never seen it back up.
palmetto-at-441
The proposal to add a “westbound left-turn lane” at Boca Woods Lane makes even less sense. Boca Woods Lane, by that name, sits entirely west of 441. The east side, where a westbound left-turn lane would be, is named N Central Park Blvd. That’s the loop that serves West Boca Medical Center. It already has a left-turn lane.
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Adding a westbound turn lane at Sandalfoot would probably require a bridge upgrade, which we mentioned before is in the works.
The most important change mentioned is increasing storage capacity for the southbound left-turn lanes on 441 at Glades. These back up quite a bit, though we don’t see a lot of room for that because of the northbound left turn lane into Mission Bay Plaza.

Other plans include:

Traffic Signal System Operation
• Signal coordination through jurisdictional boundaries n Adaptive signal timing
• Peak period arterial progression
• Dynamic signal timing
Information and Incident Management
• Incident and emergency management
•Traveler information systems
Transit
• Transit information system
• Transit signal priority/Queue jump

Most of it again sounds like efforts to improve busing, such as signs to provide updates on transit information (such as how far away the next bus is). Others may not appreciate giving buses priority on traffic signals.
For the next five years transit improvements will be limited to traffic signals and signs for bus status updates. There’s also talk of creating a hub at West Boca Medical Center to connect Palm Tran and BCT, as well as upgrading bus stops.
If all goes ahead as planned the intersection improvements would start about five years from now.
The project website is SR7Mobility.com. For the document that was provided to us by FDOT and that will be used for Thursday morning’s meeting, click the following link for the SR7-US-441 pdf file.

Batmasian Connected to Massage Prostitution Arrests

batmasianThanks to a reader tip, West Boca News has learned and confirmed that James Batmasian is connected to the O’Asian Massage Spa prostitution story.
Two of Batmasian’s companies, Glades St. Andrews One LLC and Glades St. Andrews Two LLC, are listed by the property appraiser as the owners of the building where the spa is located, 2499 Glades Road (on the northeast corner of Glades and St. Andrews).
SunBiz.org shows Batmasian as the Managing Member of the corporations.


asian-2A successful businessman, investor and property developer, Batmasian has had a couple of run-ins with the law in the past. Back in 2006 it was reported by Broward/Palm Beach New Times and the Palm Beach Post (via Newsvine) that he may have been a customer of a Boca brothel.
In 2008 he pled guilty to tax evasion, per the Sun-Sentinel, and that put him in the Miami Herald this week because he was set to host a campaign fundraiser for Governor Scott. Mitt Romney caught heat in 2012 for Batmasian’s attendance at the infamous West Boca fundraiser with the 47% remark.
Since Batmasian owns a lot of properties, it’s certainly possible he was unaware of the activities going on inside the O’Asian Massage Spa. It’s only one of many tenants.
Then again, considering his connection to the 2006 brothel, some might think he knew.
We’re mainly disappointed that we weren’t able to do more with his role as managing member. There’s a pun in there somewhere.

Massage Arrests Fell Asia O

Boca Raton Police made three arrests on Friday accusing the O’Asian Massage Spa of prostitution.
asian-arrests-boca
The arrestees include Xiaoqin Li (left, 50), Exian Zheng (center, 53) and Yan Lin (right, 40). The police say they were tipped off by a complaint.
We did our own investigation and found that the spa listed on some websites that might suggest they offer more than just a massage.
On WestPalmBeach.BackPage.com, we found some pictures that look more sexy than massage oriented.
asian-1
These young women above look quite a bit younger than the three who were arrested, so perhaps the misleading ads motivated a complaint.
Then there was this picture:
asian-2
Maybe it’s just us, but that looks like something other than therapeutic rubbing is on her mind. The investigative report indicates that the ad had more suggestive pictures in the past.
rub-mapsBut the bigger hint was the listing for erotic massage on RubMap.com.
When you have fifty reviews on a website that has “happy ending” in the top left corner (dare we say the header?), there’s a good chance something naughty is going on. The police also reviewed the RubMaps listing.
rubmaps-2
Perhaps more disturbing is the lengths to which Boca PD went in order to pull off this sting. From the 12-page report we reviewed the investigation took a year or longer and dates back to a complaint allegedly made over two years ago. Twelve customers were subjected to traffic stops from June of last year through May of this year. Surveillance of the business began in January of 2013.
They went so far as to get a warrant to secretly install cameras inside the massage parlor and filmed the massages.
When you consider what went into this investigation, all to charge three women with non-violent offenses, you begin to understand why there aren’t enough resources in South Florida to arrest and prosecute violent criminals.
O’Asian Massage Spa is (or was) located on the northeast corner of St. Andrews and Glades, which is in the looser definitions of West Boca:

Following on a reader request, here is the Complaint Affidavit.

5-Car Accident at Glades & Lyons

We happened to be nearby when we saw this tweet:

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So we parked nearby and took a look. We saw several cars plus police and fire on the scene, mainly in the left turn lane of Glades, westbound at Lyons. There were also two trucks working on traffic lights on Lyons.
Here’s a panorama shot of the whole scene.

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This shot is from the middle of Lyons just south of Glades (in the crosswalk), looking northeast.

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The next two are from the sidewalk east of the accident and then further east.

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From what we could see this was a fairly low speed incident and no one was hurt. There was substantial property damage and traffic delays but PBSO and Fire Rescue did a good job keeping things calm and smooth.

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Hit and Run in West Boca

A reader tipped us off to a hit-and-run accident near Boca West. Apparently a white Cadillac SUV rear-ended a Nissan Altima while headed west on Glades Road last night. The male driver then left the scene before police could arrive.
Here’s a photo of the message that was forwarded to us with a picture of the Altima’s crumpled rear.
hit-run-west-boca
And we were also sent a picture of the Cadillac as it was leaving. From this shot it looks more like an Escalade but it could be an SRX.
hit-run-cadillac-west-boca
If anyone has any information please let us know and we’ll forward to the driver of the Altima. Or, of course, you can contact the Sheriff. Given the location we’re not sure if this counts as within the city as the city line runs along Glades in this area.

Glades & 441: What's Going On?

See Update below.
westwinds-fence
A lot of readers have been asking us what’s going on at the corner of Glades and 441. There’s actually two things going on. As we covered previously, on the northeast corner the Shadowood plaza is adding an outbuilding for a larger Walgreens.
But most people are now asking about the southeast corner. That’s the Westwinds of Boca plaza which has Home Depot and Publix. The red arrow in the picture below points to the area where we all some kind of work going on.
westwinds-satellite
We went over yesterday to take some pictures and ask questions. We don’t have solid answers yet, but here’s what we found.
First of all as you can see in the top panorama picture and from driving by, they’ve erected fencing around the “lake” in the northwest corner of the plaza – close to the intersection of Glades and 441.
Next, here’s a panorama shot from just inside the fence that gives you some perspective:
westwinds-lake3
Basically what you see there is a backhoe, some stone, and some debris all around the lake.
Below is a shot with the backhoe’s scoop in the foreground and you can see the extent of the lake. You can see a bit more of the debris around the lake as well. Glades Road and Shadowood Square are in the far background.
westwinds-lake2
In the last photo we’re posting from the site, you get a better view of the debris.
westwinds-lake1
So what are they doing? We’ve heard all kinds of theories. One person suggested they’re filling in the lake and putting up a steak house. We don’t think that’s credible. But – see update below.
We talked to some of the workers and managers in nearby stores. None of them knew for sure.
We have another theory. We’ve been hearing for some time from reliable sources about problems (mainly littering and drug use) around this lake associated with vagrants, homeless people, and/or the people we see begging at the intersections. The lake was surrounded by a lot of foliage so their activities were hidden. We think they’re removing all of the foliage so the troublemakers won’t be able to hide their “misbehavior” in there.
It’s not really a solution to the problem – they’ll just go somewhere else. But that’s what we think they’re doing.
Workers in the nearby stores agreed that there have been problems consistent with what we heard from our other sources in the past.
Update
After originally writing this article, we got a quick comment and did some research – that we should have done in the first place. There does appear to be a plan to fill in the lake and put in more stores:
westwinds-future
We’re not sure if the current work is a precursor to that project, or if it’s somewhere further down the road. Filling in that lake will be a lot of work and require a lot of material.
Further Update
A reader in the comments pointed us to a link from the Army Corps of Engineers that sheds more light.
And another reader pointed us to planning review in Palm Beach County.