Despite bipartisan support, a bill in the state legislature to allocate $600,000 for sidewalk connectivity in Wilton Manors failed to make it past Governor Rick Scott’s veto pen.
HB 3339 and its Senate companion, SB 2500, were vetoed by Scott on June 2.
Democratic Rep. Bobby B. DuBose (94), who represents Wilton Manors, sponsored the bill. Also supporting the bill was Republican Rep. George Moraitis (93), whose district includes a small portion of Wilton Manors near Federal Highway. In the House, the vote was 98 yays, 14 nays, and 8 absent. In the Senate, it was 34 yays, 2 nays, and 3 absent.
“This kind of legislation is unheard of. Our folks did a great job,” said Mayor Gary Resnick about the bill at a recent commission meeting.
“Unfortunately, the governor has vetoed it. But we’re really proud of the work we did,” said City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson. In particular, Henderson credited Assistant City Manager Pamela Landi, who has a background in governmental relations, with traveling to Tallahassee and helping to get the bill to advance as far as it did.
“She did all the legwork,” Henderson said. Henderson also credited the city’s representatives. “We’re very fortunate to have close relationships with local legislators.”
The city has had a lobbyist in the past but not currently. Asked if this might change that, Henderson replied that the city might go back to having one but she doesn’t see how it could have swayed the governor on this issue. “It doesn’t mean in the future we won’t have one,” she said.
If the city does get state money for sidewalks in the future, or allocates its own funding, commissioners have said on multiple occasions that it will be left up the residents in each neighborhood to decide if they want sidewalks or not. “We’re going to need to discuss that. Some don’t want them,” Commissioner Tom Green said.
Some residents, such as former mayor and state representative Tracy Stafford, who uses a wheelchair, have asked commissioners to increase sidewalk connectivity throughout the city. At a July 2016 commission meeting where residents gave input on how a Community Development Block Grant should be spent, Stafford urged commissioners to do as much as they could to ensure people in wheelchairs can easily navigate sidewalks and crosswalks.