Don’t Narrow Wilton Drive

The Wilton Manors City Commission wants to eliminate 2 lanes from Wilton Drive making it one lane in each direction.  This will cause extreme traffic both during rush hour (especially when the high school opens and closes) and also at night.  We will NOT get ANY new parking spaces from this expensive project that will cost taxpayers around $1 million even though Mayor Gary Resnick says it won’t cost us a penny.  The current plan is for 5 foot wide bike lanes PLUS a 3 foot wide “buffer zone”.  This creates an 8 foot wide space that cars WILL use to pass stopped cars waiting for parking spaces making it VERY DANGEROUS for bicyclists.  Most business (that are not directly on the sidewalks to be widened) DO NOT support lane elimination.  The mayor promised a referendum so that residents could vote whether or not they want this to happen.  But once the $2.7 million MPO funding was secured he scrapped those plans.  A 2007 report showed the cost of narrowing Wilton Drive to be $3.5 million.  FDOT has already said the project will run over budget AND Wilton Manors will have to pay for any landscaping on top of that.  80% of the residents I’ve talked to while going door to door DO NOT support lane elimination.  But the city commission could care less what residents think.  They’ll even lie to us to shut us up.  Enough is Enough!  Show up to the final hearing on lane elimination on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm at the Ft Lauderdale High School cafeteria on NE 4th Street.  FDOT has not yet approved this project.  This is your final moment to tell them what you think.  Don’t wait to complain about this stupid project when you are stuck in traffic – it will be too late then!

*** During the meeting, a city official told me there would be 20-30 new parking spaces created by the lane elimination project.  Ten minutes later he said it would be more like 10.  He could not tell me how many square feet of sidewalk space would be created because the survey has not been done yet.  The city manager is trying to sell the idea that building sidewalks and moving storm drains is CHEAPER than painting lines for diagonal parking but I’m not buying it.  She even talks about getting grants for landscaping to keep on budget of ZERO taxpayer dollars being used.  ***

 

September 7, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PUBLIC SUPPORT LAGS OVER CITY COMMISSION’S CONTROVERSIAL STREET PLANS.

Questions Surround Next Week’s Final Hearing Regarding Wilton Drive Renovation.

Fort Lauderdale, FL. – Wilton Manors City Commissioners voted to approve FDOT’s proposal to narrow Wilton Drive without a formal public referendum promised by Mayor Resnick. A final public hearing regarding Wilton Drive’s lane reduction has been scheduled for September 13th despite lack of wide public knowledge about the project or support for it.

According to Boyd Corbin, candidate for Mayor of Wilton Manors, “City Officials don’t care about public opinion. I have knocked on hundreds of residents’ doors and an overwhelming number either do not support the proposal or don’t know about it… and this appears to be by design.” A July 7th, 2016 article published by the Wilton Manors Gazette reads, “Resnick promised public hearings would be held on the issue and suggested a referendum be held.” However, the record shows no official referendum scheduled and either misleading or poor attempts to educate city residents on the issue.

On October 23, 2015, the cities of Ft. Lauderdale and Wilton Manors filed an application / evaluation with FDOT, who maintain Wilton Drive, to eliminate traffic lanes and add 6.5’ of side walk to both sides of the street. FDOT requires public support in order to approve the proposed plans. The Public Outreach section of the cities’ application claims a June 4th, 2015 Wilton Manors Neighborhood Meeting hosted over 120 residents in support of the lane reduction. However, according to City of Wilton Manors City Clerk, Kathryn Sims, “…we do not have records of a June 4th meeting.” The application sites a Middle River Terrace Civic Association meeting on September 17, 2015. However, this meeting was not held in Wilton Manors and only 5 residents showed support for the proposal. The Central City CRA Advisory Board meeting on October 7, 2015 is also outlined in the public outreach portion of the application, but this was a board meeting and no residents were present. This leaves the South Middle River Civic Association meeting on August 25, 2015 where 40 Ft Lauderdale residents in attendance did support moving forward with the analysis and application for the lane elimination.

Now, Mayor Gary Resnick announced in the Island City News that a final meeting regarding lane elimination will take place on Tuesday, September 13th at Wilton Manors City Hall at 6pm. However, flyers for this meeting state it is actually taking place at the Fort Lauderdale High School Cafeteria at 5:30pm and make no mention of the proposed lane elimination. This is another in what seems to be several miscommunications regarding meetings about the proposal.

“The Mayor has stated that FDOT has already approved the proposed renovations to Wilton Drive. This is false. FDOT has yet to approve the cities’ application which is contingent on public support,” declares Corbin. According to Boyd, the lane reduction will not add the purported number of parking spaces claimed by officials, but will instead increase traffic jams and benefit a handful of business owners along the Drive. Meanwhile, the City is currently planning to add over a hundred new condos in the area which would only compound any traffic concerns.

Mr. Corbin accounts for over 180 signatures of opponents to the measure which he has collected in a petition by knocking door-to-door within Wilton Manors city limits and an additional 200 opponent signatures collected during the Stonewall Street Festival this past June. But Corbin also sites examples of residents reluctant to sign the petition – one for fear of retaliation by Nick Berry, a Wilton Manors business owner and 10-year board member of the planning and zoning board; and another resident intimidated by a family member who sits on the commission.

Still, more questions surround the very funding for this project. A less comprehensive lane reduction plan was proposed in 2007 at an estimated $3.5m, all of which the mayor has stated would come at no cost to taxpayers, but only $2.7m has been secured to date from a grant by MPO. “This leaves a bill of $800k to be picked up by the residents of Wilton Manors, and that doesn’t even include the cost of maintaining the new landscaping.  So is the City being upfront about this project and the cost to its residents?”

Wilton Manors residents are urged to attend the “N.E. 4th Avenue / Wilton Drive Public Workshop” hearing on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 from 5:30 – 7:00pm. The meeting will take place at Fort Lauderdale High School Cafeteria, 1600 NE 4th Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33305.