Needless to say when you have an opportunity to do something important and get a grant for doing so, you spend a lot of time on discussing how it can happen.
The meeting last Tuesday had a significant discussion on whether, then how to proceed with getting a Federal grant for improvements on Wilton Drive. This isn't going to happen without some significant effort as well, and the City being cut beyond the bone to the point of being perhaps impaired, will require the Task Force to study the Two Lane Initiative to proceed with this.
There is an opportunity for the City to proceed with a 10 million dollar Grant from the Feds to get a lot of the pieces of the Tiger 2 grant done on the grant. The grant requires a 2 million dollar matching payment either in cash or in kind to the projects in order to get this done. The "Pre-Application" has a two week deadline, which means that Mr Gallegos, and his excellent staff has some work ahead of them. It will require them to state the very basic parameters of the project planned, and that they have either a donation of "in kind" funds or the cash on hand.
Wilton Manors is a small city and we just don't have that kind of money sitting there.
In order to get this done, there is a very strong "Pre-Proposal" from the Gables Group. They have not fully committed to it yet, but the Gables Group has strongly hinted, implied, rumored or however you'd like to call it that they would donate a parking garage to the City free of charge on the current Old City Hall site. The string on this little package is that they want a 50 year lease (most likely for a dollar as is customary) for a "wrap around" building that faces Wilton Drive and most likely NE 21st Court at the light that will be Residential and Commercial. The design concerns will be hammered out to make the building "fit in" with the existing City Hall and be complimentary with the existing Gables development.
If you have any doubts that Gables can do the job, check my prior post from Saturday on Mizner Park.
These People Can Do The Job If They Are Allowed To Do So.
That is the 2 million dollar matching grant. What will we do with the remaining 10 Million? That is up for discussion. The Grant can not be used on parks or purchasing park land. It has been described to me by Mike D'Oliveria of the Pelican that the Grant can be used on Infrastructure Improvements that will provide Economic Stimulus for the City. In short, this has to add jobs to the City. We just have to show how this can do so.
What I think we should do with the money is the following:
1) Perform the Two Lane Initiative - all four phases. Approximately 1.6 Million
2) Add a garage for the North End of the Drive. Approximately 4.3 Million
3) Add a network of multi-use trails through the entire city. Approximately 1 Million
4) Improve Sidewalks through the entire city. Price varies due to scope but Approximately 1 Million
5) Improve NE 26th Street East of Five Points to the East boundary of the City. Approximately 2 Million
I'll admit that I pulled the number for the last one out of my ... hat, but the rest were from discussions in the chambers. The trick is that we need to come up with 10 million of improvements that will add jobs and otherwise make Wilton Manors more competitive. With the Transit Oriented Corridor along Dixie Highway, a Parking Garage makes sense since we will have a train station on the FEC line that will be added for commuters, and it would certainly improve the viability of businesses on the North end of the Drive, including those that never took off at Wilton Station.
If I came short there, I'm sure that someone else can find another project to add onto it to bring it up to the needed price. I'm certain that Dixie Highway could be repaved as a part of this, streetscape improvements and benches for Bus stops and so on.
The motion was passed unanimously to authorize the City Manager to pursue this grant with the utmost haste.
Good luck Mr G!