Port cited for violations at Peanut Island property it leases to museum

A year after sub-par conditions at the historic John F. Kennedy bunker and former U.S. Coast Guard station on Peanut Island were made public, Palm Beach County has cited the Port of Palm Beach District for numerous code violations.

Visitors enter the JFK Bunker on Peanut Island. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Visitors enter the JFK Bunker on Peanut Island. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Since 1992 the port has leased the 6-acre site to the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, and the property is managed by Maritime Business, owned by Anthony Miller.

» PHOTOS: Inside the John F. Kennedy bunker on Peanut Island

The main buildings are the bomb shelter build for Kennedy in 1961, a former Coast Guard station built in 1936 and the station’s boathouse. The museum opens the facilities to the public for tours Thursday through Sunday.

Fire code violations, failure to obtain a change of use permit and failure to obtain multiple building permits are among the violations cited.

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Port attorney Gregory Picken said Tuesday, “It is the practice of the County to cite the property owner. In this case the property owner is the Port of Palm Beach District, so the Port will need to deal with the violations through enforcement of the lease provisions with the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, Inc.

“Due to the bankruptcy of Museum’s parent company, the Port may be limited in what can be done at this point. I would expect to receive direction from the Board of Port Commissioners at the next scheduled meeting,” Picken said.

Miller said Tuesday that the museum has not been given notice of any violations at this point.

“We are inspected by the Palm Beach County Fire Department every year. They inspect and make sure our fire extinguishers are up to date and that we have exit signs. We take safety very seriously, and we have a perfect record of 20 years without one injury on that property,” Miller said.

In February 2015 the Port of Palm Beach Commission first heard a report it ordered from engineering firm CH2M Hill which detailed problems such as loose railings, termite damage and mold the facilities.

The report was based on an April 2014 inspection. Port officials have visited the facilities multiple times in the last year.

Since then, the maritime museum has undertaken some repairs. But a major planned renovation was put on hold after the Palm Beach Maritime Foundation filed a lawsuit against Palm Beach Maritime Museum, Inc. over which board members are the lawful board.

In December the Palm Beach Maritime Foundation, headed by founder John Grant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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