Last night, I was at the Commission Meeting. I had missed a couple of them in a row and was there specifically because I was asked to be there by two of the up and coming candidates, Joe Angelo For Mayor and Celeste Ellich for City Commissioner.
I also was there because as a member of Wilton Manors Main Street I felt it was important to be there to show my support. We had presented a Business of the Quarter award to the owners of the Alibi last night, Jackson Padgett and Mark Negrete. Great bar! It has the best burger in Broward County, a wonderful restaurant with those rolly picnic tables outside under the awning, and some of the friendliest staff around. A place where everyone is welcome.
Among other business, the City Manager Joe Gallegos was picked up for another two year term. The law firm that the city works with was renewed for another two year term so we'll get to work with Kerry Ezrol as City Attorney. I have had discussions and worked with both on the various boards that I am a part of and have nothing but good things to say from my experiences. Good luck to both of you.
The discussion later in the evening turned to the ongoing saga of parking in the City of Wilton Manors. The hours of enforcement will be cut back to 6PM to 2AM, 7 days a week. The meters will still be there, but enforcement will be limited. I am not against this idea, after all, the business district is very lightly used during the day time, and this does cover the sweet spot. The problem is that the original agreement assumed that we were going to have enforcement 24 hours a day. In an economic downturn, and in a small business business district like ours, this is not a reasonable assumption. This thought was realized by the Commission and hours were excluded.
Unfortunately there's a problem there. The problem is that the contract with Lanier Parking Systems states that they will get the first $350,000 of parking revenue as a management fee. Yes, I'm simplifying that but basically the idea is that if the parking in the City does not bring in the needed $350,000, then the City Government will be stuck for the difference. Add to that the costs of installing and maintaining all that equipment and you see the problem. I don't disagree with cutting back the hours to the evening, but I don't have a good answer for the alternative.
There is a situation that has come to my attention and that is that of fees. I have been told, and I have not confirmed, that the fees for the tennis courts are lower than nearby cities. Fort Lauderdale has tennis courts and does not charge for parking to use them, however their fees are higher. The answer there is to forget about this particular fatted calf and raise the fees for the Tennis Courts equal to that of neighboring Fort Lauderdale or higher. After all, the courts at Wilton Manors are meant to be a Premium surface, and therefore more desirable to be played on.
I personally don't see why we are subsidizing tennis in the city of Wilton Manors. It is only one sport among many, and while we do not have room to have facilities for every sport here, it is one that is practiced by a minority, and a well heeled one at that. It is a rather expensive perk for those who have extra money to burn to have them here and pay less than other places. If you doubt that, drive by the adjacent parking area and look at the luxury cars parked there. These few parking spaces are stacked with Mercedes, BMW and Lexus cars every day. They can afford to pay for parking.
Unfortunately, the Beach Volleyball which is an open court, is right next to it and that is a much less intense use of the space requiring much less maintenance. To the best of my knowledge, the Beach Volleyball court is free for all, and not charged by the city so charging for parking may be a good way to reclaim some of the expenses of maintaining that lot, minimal though they are. The place still has to be raked smooth at the end of the night.
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