A friend of mine built the Metropolitan, and it is as nice a residential apartment project as has ever been constructed in Wilton Manors. Just east of the railroad tracks on NE 24th Street, its residents are modern, fit and urbane, and the buildings aesthetic and eye pleasing.
Just west of the complex, across from the Brightline trains now speeding through the town are the upgraded railroad tracks now used routinely for residential routing. Of course, it is also across the street from Manley’s huge tree-cutting trucks and Detail Roofing, populating the area with a half dozen commercial vehicles.
Also at the railroad tracks are warehouses, constantly used by commercial trucks and vans, storage units for businesses, including SFGN. It is the location of our warehouse and multiple other local businesses, where large vans park along the side of the road everyday, blocking and obstructing pedestrians and cars, forcing everyone into the roadway.
Just around the corner you have the city’s most popular and humongous recycling units, two large green metallic structures which are an entry and exit point every single day for dozens of trucks, vans, and residents carrying containers and cardboard, dumping and leaving trash and recyclables by the truckload at all hours.
If all this was not enough to make the area unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, walkers or kids, you have Mike Verdugo’s cross fitting gym, where each day their runners routinely and unsafely engage in the dangerous practice of jogging down Dixie Highway and around the corners, sweating and negotiating their way between moving cars and vans where one ton vehicles carrying trees, roofing materials, and newspapers just don’t see them.
This has to stop before someone gets run over. It is going to happen otherwise. It is inevitable. This is no place for them to run and there is no place for them to run there safely.
The area’s geographic dangers are compounded by an intimate beautiful playhouse and theater where patrons are coming out onto the highway at night in the dark and way too few spaces in the street for them to park safely. Thank goodness that new facility just west of Dixie is opening soon. A welcome addition to the neighborhood, it is still not on point for this street, though.
Mayors are running for re-election but citizens in this mess on 24th will still be running for their lives because there is absolutely nothing safe about the nightmare they are creating. Actually, it is just as bad in the daytime as the nighttime. It is a 24-hour potential catastrophe.
What makes things worse is that the street is only two blocks south of the traffic debacle at Five Points, and is a through street connecting North Dixie Highway to Northeast 15th Avenue. I know about through streets from my 12-year tenure as a traffic judge and magistrate in Fort Lauderdale. It is a code word for speed street, short cut, and let me speed through it as quick as I can. They are unsafe.
This is despite the well-meaning speed bumps that already present safety hazards for bicyclists and pedestrians coming out of the Metropolitan because there just isn’t any safe part of the roadway for them to negotiate passage. Baby carriages should not compete with speed bumps and railroad crossings. But they do, and present a hazard.
Finally, did I mention that the new homes at the corner of NE 24th and NE 15 avenue were so negligently allowed to be constructed so close to the turn lanes and intersections that within the next six months someone making a left turn onto NE 24th, where there is no stop sign or slow down warning, is going to drive right through the house and into someone’s living room? It’s going to happen. Or someone’s dog is going to get run over.
I have had my newspaper very close to this burgeoning roadside disaster for eight years. I have some skin in the game. My Labrador was run over and killed at one of these corners 8 years ago. His ashes still sit on my desk. I see them every day. And I see week after week and month after month a city administration making poor decisions on traffic and parking, roadways and construction, throughout the Manors. Meanwhile, I put out my paper. But if we can save a life here or there, it may be worth it.
Please, oh wise city officials. Do something somehow and some way soon. You are creating a monstrosity. There is a traffic disaster waiting to happen. A recycling truck is going to hit a baby carriage. A jogger from the gym is going to be hit by a driver.
Someone coming out of Manley’s tree service is going to not see a car coming out of a driveway where you have managed to combine residential homes, apartment complexes, duplexes and large commercial industries on a street that has become a business and residential and pedestrian thoroughfare.
It’s one small street in one small town, but it’s our town, and it was my dog. Please save the next one. It may be an old man jogging or a little kid in a carriage. Both deserve saving, a lot more than any commissioner’s bid for re-election.
The tenants of the Metropolitan and the local homeowners have beautified and upgraded the street and surroundings. Let's make it safer and more secure too so we encourage more projects with their class and sense of community