The seeds of the West Boca Community Council were sown in Flushing, New York when a retired office worker and her lawyer husband decided in 1978 to move to West Boca full-time after spending several winters here as snow birds.
The wife, who had been a community activist in New York, wasted no time getting involved in her new community. Soon after joining the Board in Boca Lakes, she waged a losing battle to stop the building of a shopping center that is known today as Boca Lyons.
Her husband suggested if she wanted to win such battles in the future, she needed more allies.
Fran Reich took her husband Alan’s advice and rounded up five other fledgling HOAs to join forces. Meeting in Fran’s villa, they decided to call themselves the West Boca Community Council (WBCC) and elected the grandmother from Flushing as its first president. She served in that capacity for eight years, during which time the WBCC grew to 60 community homeowner associations representing over 50,000 people.
Fran served as Chairperson for many years after stepping down as President in 1988, in which capacity she was succeeded first by Milton Brenner, then the late Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Winikoff and, since 2003, incumbent President Sheri Scarborough.
Fran won many battles as the organization she founded became a powerful force in Palm Beach County. Her WBCC concept was adopted in unincorporated West Boynton and West Delray. The three organizations have since combined forces on many common causes over the years.
Her concern about the growing traffic problem in West Boca led her to summon then County Commissioner Dennis Koehler to her home in the early 1980s. She sat him down in her kitchen and, Koehler later told the Sun-Sentinel, “was beating up on me for growth and development. She was griping about the traffic conditions on Glades Road.”
Fran proposed a bridge be built over the Florida Turnpike so that Palmetto Park Road could be expanded all the way west to 441 and thereby relieve the congestion on Glades. She even presented Koehler with a financial plan to come up with the $6 million the project would cost. Within 28 hours, it was in the county’s road budget. “It was lightning speed”, he said, and “certainly would not have happened without Fran Reich and the WBCC.” Not long after being built, the County Commissioners officially named it the Fran Reich Bridge.
More recently, Palm Beach County also named a 1,660-acre preserve just south of West Boca Community High School for Fran, who for decades was an ardent campaigner for the restoration of the Everglades.
The land we now call the Fran Reich Preserve very nearly became a Solid Waste Authority dump and incinerator in the 1980s. The WBCC waged a 12-year campaign against this project, which included a boisterous rally of 4,000 residents of West Boca that helped usher in a big victory.
Fran Reich and her successors were also on the front line to stop a planned airport, a bullet train and an expressway in West Boca. Most recently, they were instrumental in stopping the expansion of a Broward thoroughfare through West Boca.
Throughout its history, the WBCC has followed the vision of its founder, which she described as working for “quality of life” issues. The Council has long been known for doing its homework, keeping its cool, and remaining non-partisan, which traits were modus operandi for Fran Reich.