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As I sit down to write my article this week, having just welcomed in the New Year a few hours ago, I cannot rid myself of the uncertainty and anxiety of what lies ahead for us all in 2017.

I truly want to be positive about moving forward, but given the facts, it might be foolish to believe a year from now will find us happier, safer, and more secure. The world has become a very dangerous place, with countries and old allies pulling up the drawbridges and retreating into isolationism and factionalism. No longer seeking to work together in a global village, we find the post-World War Two power structure and alliances unraveling, moving further to confrontation, as new players push their agendas forward onto the world stage. Nobody knows where this fractionalized new world will take us as we move ahead in 2017, but a smooth ride is not looking good from this perspective.

So enough with the doom and gloom, pour another drink and let us celebrate all that is good right here in good ole Wilton Manors. We have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for as our city moves ahead into the new year.

Major changes are coming as Complete Streets projects get underway for Powerline Road, Wilton Drive and other areas throughout our region. The work on Powerline Road will have an enormous effect on the surrounding neighborhoods between Sunrise and Oakland Park Blvds. Reducing lanes to slow down speeding vehicles, adding bicycle lanes and pedestrian friendly amenities will transform the area from a rundown residential strip that butts against a major roadway into a neighborhood where families can walk and ride bikes alongside a narrowed roadway, no longer a speedway for motorist only.

Bright days lie ahead for Wilton Drive also, as the state moves ahead with planned changes that will help create a thriving town center that Wilton Manors so justly deserves. Also assisting the Drive’s transformation is the good work being done by the Wilton Drive Improvement District Board. We also look forward to the upcoming zoning changes along Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Blvd, that will make the area more suitable for redevelopment.

Another bright spot for our city is the ongoing improvements at Mickel Park. 2017 will be a great year for Mickel, with planned concert series, events, improvements to the Children’s Playground area, upgrades to the multipurpose field, free wi-fi, and much more. So many in our community came together to make sure that an underutilized, vandal ridden park was transformed into a city gem serving our residents.

The city’s investment, along with additional grants from Broward County, CDBG, and others sources, will ensure that this park facility will continue to be a shining bright spot for our city for many years beyond 2017. That same commitment will help transform Colohatchee Park into the wonderful city recreational facility it should and will be.

We move ahead into the new year with a sound budget, strong property values, active community members who volunteer to serve on city boards and other services in our city, a dedicated municipal workforce, long serving elected officials, a fully staffed Police force, wonderful recreational facilities, a great independent library, and most of all great residents that love to live and play right here in our wonderful city. Looking at the local level, 2017 looks like another great year here in our home town. Let’s hope our positive outlook will spread far outside our borders. The menacing world beyond will of course affect us all, but we stand on solid ground to be ready to deal with what might come our way.

One local issue of doom and gloom is our water and sewage rates. Recent infrastructure shortcomings that recently came to light in Fort Lauderdale should be a major point of concern for residents here in Wilton Manors. Since Fort Lauderdale is not adequately budgeting for infrastructure improvements for water and sewage facilities, the upcoming day of reckoning will be felt in 2017 and beyond. As in the past, Fort Lauderdale has no problem passing that bill onto the municipalities such as ours that need to purchase water from them. Higher water bills will be the norm unless some regional action is demanded.

So raise your glass and let’s toast our new year, 2017, wishing all a very healthy and happy! And may we continue to be diligent in our efforts to ensure that life remains just better here…