Welcome to my new column, “This, Justin.” SFGN and The Wilton Manors Gazette have made great efforts to keep Wilton Manors and our neighbors informed on happenings in the Island City, and I’m excited to add a City voice to the dialogue.
I grew up here locally in Broward County, in and near Wilton Manors, and have been fortunate to serve the people of my community as their elected public servant for six years. Please know that while I serve as the Vice Mayor for the City of Wilton Manors, I am representing my own views and perspective, which I hope will be informative to you.
This is an exciting time for Wilton Manors – many long-term initiatives are underway, our community is strong, and positive growth is happening. I thought I would kick off my first column by providing an update on two initiatives that will improve livability and our economic sustainability.
Our Island City faces many opportunities as we move forward as a community. The city commission directed staff to proceed with joining AARP’s network of age-friendly communities, which not only seeks to equip city government, businesses, and neighborhoods with preparedness for an aging population but also fosters collaboration between and among private and public sectors to finds ways to address liveabilty needs regardless of age or physical challenge. The program recognizes eight domains of livability which include social participation, respect, and social inclusion. Recognizing and meeting the needs of those who comprise our city community from our junior to our senior citizens is a priority I am proud to share with so many of you. I personally wish to thank members of the Community Affairs Advisory Board and our former Mayor and former State Representative Tracy Stafford for bringing this to my attention and to that of others at city hall.
Another item we must pursue is updating our city’s outdated code provisions and implementing Transit Oriented Corridor (TOC) regulations as the next phase of the Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard study. The study demonstrated the need for an overhaul of land use designation and codes that have lagged behind the times leaving these two corridors with unattractive structures both to the eye and business development. The type of TOC regulations the city adopts should be tailored in a way that invites business reinvestment along these commercial corridors without infringement upon our small town neighborhood charm that uniquely defines Wilton Manors from the heavy development we see in places like downtown Fort Lauderdale. I am committed to finding a way to achieve both of these important objectives. The specific TOC regulations we adopt do not need to exactly duplicate our Dixie Highway TOC regulations. Neighbors should participate with other stakeholders to provide input as to how we tailor our regulations for Oakland Park Boulevard and Andrews Avenue. Let’s not fear finding a way forward but have confidence in our ability to see a way for Wilton Manors to grow in a way that preserves our neighborhoods yet allows for some modest smart growth along our aging commercial corridors.
Finding our way forward together is just one more reason why “life’s just better here.”
Justin Flippen is currently the Vice Mayor of Wilton Manors. He is now running for mayor.