If Doug Blevins has his way, Wilton Drive will soon be a lot slower, and a lot safer. Blevins, the President of Wilton Manors Main Street, Inc. (WMMS), is among business and community leaders urging officials in the Island City to make major changes to the community’s main drag.
“Our elected city officials need to lead this city as they were elected to do,” Blevins says. “The safety, welfare and economic survival of Wilton Manors and Wilton Drive depend on action, and action now.”
The goal of WMMS, a nonprofit comprised primarily of residents and business owners, is to narrow Wilton Drive – also known as Northeast 4 Avenue – from four lanes to two, and to convert it into a tree-lined thoroughfare that includes lanes for bicyclists, wider sidewalks and increased parking.
At a meeting of the Wilton Manors City Commission on April 13, supporters and opponents of the initiative gave commissioners and Mayor Gary Resnick an earful.
The WMMS proposal would have the city take control of Wilton Drive from the state. Blevins says that would require about six months, along with an agreement by the city to pay approximately $50,000 a year for maintenance costs.
Parking patterns on the street would change from the current parallel configuration to angle-in parking spaces.
Tom Tabor, who chairs the group’s two-lane initiative, says that would add an additional 112 parking spots.
Blevins says the overhaul would occur in phases, with re-striping for the new lane and parking configurations costing around $137,000.
Although commissioners did not vote on the initiative, attendees were asked if they supported the proposal; by show of hands, the vast majority signaled their approval.
“Now the real work begins,” Blevins noted after the meeting. “We must join forces as a cohesive group so that this is not delayed another three years.”