Last night's commission meeting was a short one. After the swearing in of the elected officials and some light refreshments preceding the event, there was the selection of Tom Green as the Vice Mayor for the City.
Congratulations, Tom and best of luck.
The meeting was a short agenda but there were some highlights.
During the comments from the Commissioners there was a call from Commissioner Scott Newton for the City to "Invest in the closure of the drive for next year's" halloween party. This is an excellent idea, since it will enhance the event and increase safety. It fell through last year because of the collapse of the original event's sponsors and by the time that Wilton Manors Main Street was able to pick up the event, it was too late to close the Drive. The timing was just not right. With Commissioner Newton's backing, an early closure of the Drive may be assured regardless of which group handles the event. Since Wilton Drive is in fact a four lane State Highway, Florida DOT is required to be notified and there are costs with closure. With the Drive closed for an event everyone wins. According to Commissioner Newton, during the four days of Wicked Weekend there were only two related police calls with no arrests. Events here tend to be a very safe affair.
Vice Mayor Tom Green voiced an interest in the City holding a St Patricks day festivity for next year. Hopefully they will be able to pull something significant together for this as it is already getting late for any plans on a large scale event to fall in place. Most likely it will be a small community based event instead of a large festival. Having watched multiple festivals being planned and realizing that a large one with closing of the drive, parades, booths and other public space events would be difficult, I wish them well and would offer my assistance in any way reasonable. I don't expect that they have much time before they run against logistics problems.
Vice Mayor Tom Green also reiterated his desire for traffic cameras on Wilton Drive. I see some problems with this. Washington DC had tried these cameras and began removing them. The reason is that people would spot the signs at the intersection, jam their brakes on and cause more accidents than would have happened without the cameras. It would be more effective to enforce existing laws such as speeding and aggressive driving and get the word out that Wilton Manors is not a place to drive through, but a place to drive to. If you stand on Wilton Drive and watch the intersections for any length of time, you realize that speeding is the real problem and not people running lights or trying to get through on a "Stale Yellow Light".
The real solution to speeding on Wilton Drive is to narrow the drive down to two lanes and proceed with the two lane initiative as discussed by many people and championed by Wilton Manors Main Street. It is very difficult to speed when you have only one lane, there is parking everywhere, and the speed limit is 25MPH. It is easy and the norm now with four lanes of traffic plus a turn lane at all intersections.
With the proposed Beer Garden going in on NE 6th Ave just above Wilton Drive planning on using valet parking, the idea of adding parking on the Drive with striping in the first phase is needed. The idea that there is anywhere to park a vehicle for a new bar is questionable, and it should be a requirement that they provide adequate parking sufficient for peak periods. A beer garden would be a fun change from the usual noisy bar scene, but if you add to the nightmare of parking in the city, you're going to have problems keeping the business going. I share Vice Mayor Green's concern that the plan for valet parking for the Beer Garden parking at the Dairy Queen, 1/2 mile away, is prohibitive from the practicality standpoint.