By Jess Swanson
Aaron Wormus is the chief technology officer of HedgeCo Vest, a hedge-fund company located on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. Every day on his way to workWormus passes a section of the old Florida East Coast railroad tracks and an overgrown area around it.Wormus, a father and husband, thought the community could use this land in so many ways. He imagined a linear park — like New York City’s High Line — with families going on walks, people exercising, and dogs playing on leashes.Wormus started speaking with other people, and they seemed just as frustrated that the sprawling half-mile track of prime downtown real estate was going to waste.
“It’s a long pathway and the perfect canvas for art, dance, music, a place to walk your dogs,” Wormus says. “But I’m just a regular person here in town; I don’t have the ability to make a park.”
But last year, Wormus began meeting with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority, which became supportive of his plan. To secure funding, city officials recommended he apply for a Knight Cities Challenge, a Knight Foundation grant awarded to applications focusing on “attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of robust civic engagement.”
He turned in the application for Quadrille Linear Park in October. Last week, the Knight Foundation announced it was one of four finalists for Palm Beach among 150 applications nationwide. There were more than 4,000 submissions.