Quite a lot happened last night, the meeting ran until 10:30 which is a good judge of things.
The easiest bit first, the Stop Sign was retained on NE 7th Ave at NE 22nd Drive. The Pedestrians and the Children of this neighborhood are safer as a result. There was a petition of 60 neighbors presented to the Commission who felt that public safety was a higher priority than one specific person's gripe about having to tap his brakes and stop.
As for the Wilton Manors Main Street Two Lane Initiative, that's still moving along.
The Commission was treated to a solid hour of citizens and business owners speaking in public comments for the Drive Initiative. The only dissenting opinion given was Paul Kuta, who objects on Financial Grounds. I can understand that there isn't any money in the budget for new initiatives, but I am sure if you have read my writings you will understand that I think this is a Must rather than a Can do situation.
The short description of the situation is that the resolution to place this on the ballot was canceled by the Commission with only one dissenting opinion, by Tom Green. Commissioner Green believed that it should go onto the ballot in November for a referendum saying shall the city take back the drive or not.
I think what happened was that the last two weeks the Commissioners got to hear from the people in the city, and the business owners and are going to get an earful of opinions. This process won't stop, there seems to be a lot of momentum behind it, and the vast majority of the vocal people in the community want to see the narrowing of the drive to go through.
I'm sure that there are some who disagree. There are those that look at the cost and can't find a way to fund it.
There are those who say that they don't want to throw more money at "Those People" who use the Drive as their play ground.
There are those who like the idea of driving through our city to get to other places and do so at speeds exceeding the speed limits. To those I suggest Boomers or that place on Powerline - go get in a go cart and go nuts.
The consensus at this point of the Commissioners is that they need to do this plan at some level, but are not sure how to make it work.
I have pages of notes that I had taken in the meeting itself on my trusty handheld Zaurus computer. Watching the proceedings I think I saw the consensus go from We Can't to We Must But How.
I stand strongly by my previous appraisal. If we do not improve parking on the drive, some other city will realize that our business climate is tapped out and the economic engine of this little city, the entertainment district and the bars within, will wither away. If that happens and they move to Oakland Park or Ft Lauderdale, the elected officials have themselves only to blame.
The money can be found and must be found. The most cost effective way is to perform Phase One of the plan and use the revenue from Phase One to prepare to perform the later phases. That costs approximately $140,000. The return on your investment will be the same number of parking spaces that demolishing old City Hall and building a multiple level parking garage would at $4 Million. Chen and Associates agree with Wilton Manors Main Street that the numbers that we have come up with on Phase One are accurate but as was said on the Dais last night, The Devil Is In The Details.
Find the Money. This is the FOURTH time this plan or similar have been presented to the Commission and Mayor since 2000.
The result of the meeting was that the question will not be on the ballot. Not due to Intellectual Elitism but the understanding by Three of the Commissioners plus the Mayor that you just can't pack something this complex into 70 words. 30 seconds of speech.
The plan now is to bring this all up in the Town Meeting to be held in Hagen Park June 15th, 2010.
If you live here or own a business here or just love this quirky city, make your opinion known. In my case, I will continue to every time I get a chance.