Letter to the Editor: What Will We Want Within Wilton Manors?

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The 5th April 2017 edition of SFGN’s Wilton Manors Gazette posted a fascinating constellation of articles including James Oaksun’s “Who Do You Trust?,” concerning questionable practices of politicians and realtors with regard to affordable housing that degrade trust, followed ironically by Michael d’Oliveira’s “Metropolitan Faces Scrutiny at Commission Meeting: Developers Accused of Lying,” which title says it all, then his “Taking Over ‘Site 92’” about differing opinions on neighborhood parkland, and finally Pier Angelo’s tongue in cheek piece titled “Now Wilton Manors Needs An Airport,” which satirizes the current drive to put a train station in our town. Clearly, development in our island oasis and its pitfalls are on our minds nowadays.

Every person living and working in Wilton Manors surely agrees that we want a safe and prosperous town, and almost everybody would also desire our community to have good aesthetics and cultural life. But as those articles clearly reveal, one man’s prosperity is another’s man’s loss, and one woman’s “improvement” is another woman’s “blight.” Though I lay no claim to expertise, it doesn’t take a savant to see that there is a gap between most community members’ vision and desires for our Island City and those of developers and possibly city officials. While many of us quietly enjoy the peaceful small town atmosphere we moved here for, perhaps others have a different concept of the common good.

A case in point, which seems to be moving under the radar, is The Pride Center’s current plans to develop affordable or low income housing along the Dixie Highway stretch of Equality Park. While the Pride Center is a wonderful presence in our community and its Board’s initial intention to create a home on its grounds for local LBGT seniors was 100 percent laudable, the project has morphed into a nightmare for Wilton Manors.

This housing will not be for LBGT people. In fact, it will draw in people from throughout Broward County who have needs which The Pride Center cannot meet. If constructed on this tax-sheltered property, it will bring no income to Wilton Manors, but it will require City services from sanitation to the police. Traffic and congestion along that dangerous curve on Dixie Highway can only grow worse with high rise construction right on the street.

No doubt some readers will disagree with me and feel there is a benefit to dangerously crowding our community and burdening its services, but the real issue is exchange of accurate information.

We need to follow what “development” plans and vision The City is considering, the costs to us as a community – not just in dollars but in quality of life – and we need to take multiple opportunities to express our views.

Part of the burden, of course, lies on each individual among us to make his or her opinions known to our dedicated town officials, for absent the public’s known opinions, others will act on their own beliefs and for their own benefit.

— Jim Sentman

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