Column: An Artist's Touch

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Summer 2017 is over, schools are back in session, the Fall holidays are fast approaching, and life here in Wilton Manors has just kicked it up a notch. Yes folks, it’s time for my annual warning that Christmas is just around the corner. Think I am crazy? Well, the next few months are jammed packed with activity; and if you think 2017 has been racing by, hold on to your hat because the ride is about to get a lot faster.
As our city government, along with local non-profits, schools, and others swing back into action from a slower summer pace, calendars have been filling up fast. After September, we have the Jewish Holidays, then Halloween, Thanksgiving, and right into the Christmas holiday season and the end of the year. Before you know it, we will be singing Old Lang Syne and 2018 will be well on its way.

I sound the alarm so that we can take a moment to contemplate those items still on our 2017 To-Do List. Now is the time to get moving on those items and to evaluate what our expectations for the remainder of the year to be. The City of Wilton Manors has been very busy going through their To-Do List. Plans for the narrowing of Wilton Drive are moving ahead. The Andrews Avenue/Oakland Park Corridor is in the rezoning planning stages. The Wayfinding Signage program will finally be making its impact throughout our city as the final design stages are completed, with installation of signs starting shortly thereafter. The budget for the next fiscal year beginning in October has reached the final approval stage after months of committee review and workshops. Our Police Department moved away from the unpopular 12-hour shifts and strategically created the position of Assistant Police Chief with Commander Blocker rightfully promoted to that position. Our city’s infrastructure continues to be upgraded and properly maintained. Hopefully, our neighboring city starts to invest equally in their aging water and sewage systems. The new Children’s Playground and Splash Pad will soon be a great addition to Mickel Park. Colohatchee Park improvements continue and are well funded in the new budget. Those are some of the highlights of the very busy year here in Wilton Manors. And the list goes on ….

These accomplishments, along with still more to-do items before year’s end, gets done by our very strong and committed city staff, our engaged City Commission, the many involved citizens who serve on city advisory boards and committees, and the many residents who want to see our city continue to shine.

So what unfinished business is left on that To-Do List? The big item that continues to be pushed aside is public art. Many talk about it, but our city has still not made a commitment to make it happen. Yes, we have Art Gallery 21 at the Women’s’ Club, the on-going Artwalk, Art in City Hall Project, and other initiatives started by a group of residents actively committed to art-based projects here in Wilton Manors, but our city government needs to step up its involvement. Many cities in Broward County already have thriving art programs brought about by the adoption of public art ordinances. Since 2004, six art installations have gone up in the City of Tamarac, over fifteen pieces added to the City of Coral Springs public collection. Other cities such as Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, and Coconut Creek have all enacted public art ordinances. These cities have made a real commitment to making the impact of public art on their communities a reality. Wilton Manors needs a public arts ordinance, we need sources of funding, and we need a commitment by our city’s leaders to make it happen. A thriving and supported public arts program will connect so many projects in the works throughout our city, add cultural value, provide economic development, and create a stronger sense of community.

So, as we justly look with pride at all the good that is getting done this year here in Wilton Manors and we pause to look at what needs doing during the remaining few months of 2017, now is the time to commit to making public art, with all the benefits to our community, an item finally checked off our To-Do List before another year goes by.
Having a public art ordinance in place would truly make life just better here.


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