Thursday, June 24, 2010

Commission Meeting on the Two Lane Initiative Board

The City Commission on Tuesday night had a Board proposed in New Business by Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.  This Board would be created to help the City wrap their minds around the very complex issues surrounding Wilton Manors Main Street's Two Lane Initiative.

The details of this plan are what are the most interesting.  It is the intent of the Commission to have this Board self fund via donations and grants.  It also is to reflect the complex diversity of those who will be effected by the changes to the Drive.  Since the Board is also subject to the Sunshine Laws, it will be required to actually pay a Board Secretary.

The Board hasn't been created and already is running at a deficit.

They are now drafting a resolution to create this board and the selection of the members therein, which means that the Two Lane Initiative will be delayed again.  The very soonest that this resolution will be presented will be at the next Commission meeting as a First Reading, followed by debate, and a Second Reading.  By the time the Board gets up and running, it may be Fall or Winter before anything actually happens.

The tricky part, and I do applaud the Commission at at least trying to figure out a way to do this, will be to attempt to make the Board accurately reflect the diversity of the people who will be effected by the proposed changes.

The Commission will have a seat on the Board via the City Manager, Joe Gallegos.  Wilton Manors Main Street is proposed to have a seat on the Board of their own selection.  Of the other seats on the Board, it blossomed to as many as 13 and back down to 7.  There will be an attempt to find an Architect or other Technical resource, a resident from the public at large, someone from the Wilton Manors Business Association or Chamber of Commerce, and a member from Planning and Zoning.

The situation is that since the actual selection of the members will be a very complex issue.   I don't see how they will manage to do it in this fashion unless they were to allow each Commissioner and the Mayor to select one member to the Board directly, and then to have that person be of a specific "class" such as a Technical Resource or from Planning and Zoning.  Otherwise they're going to have a large number of people who will apply for specific seats and it will be a long and drawn out affair.

This suggestion was brought up in the Commission meeting by more than one Commissioner.  Since the Commissioners all have their own views on constituency, it seems most appropriate to have specific seats filled by specific Commission appointees.   For example, Commissioner Tom Green was most interested in having an "At Large" person from the residential community on the board who does not live "directly" on the Drive.  He would be the best person to find this At Large appointee.

The Self Funding aspect is another interesting wrinkle.   The Two Lane Initiative can fund itself once it is up and running.  It is expected to create a surplus to the city of $81,000 but that is once Phase 1 has been completed.  It will cost $139,000 to get Phase 1 completed, but that will be paid off within the first year.  The intent of the Commission would be to have people on this Board who are adept at finding Grants and other Funding sources to come up with the money to actually get Phase 1 and perhaps more completed.  This is a challenge to most so your pool of individuals who are able to knock on doors and find a business or governmental entity with deep pockets who actually live in the city may not be all that great.

Just getting this Board established may be the hardest part.  The Two Lane Initiative as presented by Wilton Manors Main Street was to show a framework under which the City could progress with a project to get another 115 parking spaces at a lower price than any other and do so with a surplus.  Getting to that first Phase is a big hurdle, but finding the particular mix of people who can make that happen will be a challenge.

I go to the City Commission meetings twice a month because I am genuinely interested in the goings on in this quirky little city.   I expect to be going to this new board as well because the process is fascinating to me.  I've had my hands in the whole Two Lane Initiative process from the beginning as a Board Member on Wilton Manors Main Street.  Since the public will be allowed to be in this as well, we will also be able to give our input whether a member of Main Street or not.

As such I don't expect to be involved in this Board other than as a spectator.  The reason is that they intend to have this Board to be subject to the Sunshine Law.  I have no problem with a Board being required to be open to the public.  Back room politics have the connotation that they have because of the effect they have on people in the broadest sense of the word.  The problem is that if you are on multiple boards, one with the Sunshine Law and one or more without being under it, your effectiveness on those other boards will be limited.  You end up sending one of the people who are co-board members outside of the chambers while you are discussing these issues.

With a group that is tasked to be as creative as possible in finding solutions for the Two Line Initiative's challenges, being limited by a requirement that gags you outside of the Board's scope is a bit of overkill.

What ever your opinion is of Wilton Manors Main Street, I believe that their impact in Wilton Manors has been greatly positive and would prefer to see that group thrive as long as it remains so, to jeopardize it would be a major loss.  The City of Wilton Manors is proud to have such a strong class of Volunteer workers servicing its needs, the Mayor Gary Resnick and each and every Commissioner has said the same from the Commission Chambers on the Dais.  To limit their work would be unfortunate, whether they be Elected Official or whether they be Volunteer.

Now if we can just find those Seven People!

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