We have to look past the ‘not in my backyard’ argument

There are locals who want to put the brakes on a Tri-Rail station coming to Wilton Manors. And while they will give you a list of reasons on why it’s such a bad idea, the real reason is simple “Not in My Back Yard.”

It’s understandable.

But the list of things that people don’t want in their back yard tends to be a list of things that would benefit people who are not them. We also have a tendency to stop talking about the benefits of a solid public transportation network as soon as gas is under $2 a gallon again. But now is the time to discuss this even more.

 I’m the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that having a Tri-Rail station in Wilton Manors would be a boon for the businesses in the area and bring more people to Wilton Manors as business patrons and residents.

 South Florida is choking on its traffic. We need to think outside of the box. A station here has the potential to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods. It will bring in new residents and new businesses and jobs that come with them. This leads to a term called “value capture” and a report by Reconnecting America shows that transit can increase property values and result in development opportunities. Even Boca Raton has seized the opportunity to put itself in the middle of the rail boom, and is home to the busiest Tri-Rail station on the line. We need to follow in their footsteps and fight for our own station.

 There are multiple surveys that show transit has the potential to revitalize a downtown area, open up suburbs to new people, and increase property values by implementing multiple modes of public transportation.

South Florida faces the challenge of all three of these categories, as well as a massive tourist trade, and the traffic they bring with them. It’s past time to consider the effects of suburban sprawl and traffic, and to start implementing solutions that are going to carry us from the 21st century and into the 22nd. We also have an aging population of Baby Boomers, and a generation of Millennials and GenZ who value access over ownership in terms of transportation.

I agree that some property values will go up while others go down. I agree that some businesses will see more benefits from a Tri-Rail station in Wilton Manors than others. Taxes, including mine, might go up in order to finance the rail station. My taxes also go to pay for a lot of other things, some of which I am in favor and some of which I am not.

However, Wilton Manors has changed since I first opened Pallant Insurance, and needs to keep changing, growing, and become more inclusive. As much as some hate to admit it, we live in the 21st Century, and we face challenges that nobody even thought could exist as little as 20 years ago.

If we have more opportunities and more freedoms, if we have a voice and a right to exist on our own terms, it’s because we didn’t let the NIMBYs win.