A clash over development has led to the creation of a new neighborhood association in Wilton Manors’ east side.

A press release dated Oct. 11 announced the formation of Three Bridges Neighborhood Association. The non-profit presents itself as an “inclusive” organization designed to empower and support residents and businesses in east Wilton Manors.

“We are a group of dedicated residents who seek to effect positive change in our community by building bridges among our neighbors and businesses,” said Roger Cruttenden, founding president of Three Bridges Neighborhood Association, in a press release.

Three Bridges was founded by Cruttenden and eastside residents Bryon Bowlby, Karl Lentzer, Rudy Molinet and Anthony LoGrande. In an interview with journalist Kareem Awadalla, Cruttenden said the men want to bring forth discussions amongst residents and create consensus. There is a better path, explained Cruttenden.

“What we want to do is gather the opinions and consensus from the neighborhood and follow their lead,” Cruttenden said.

The new group will have to navigate alongside the East Neighborhood Association. Under the direction of former Wilton Manors Mayor John Fiore, the East Neighborhood Association has deployed tactics to slow the rate of development. ENA led the opposition to increased density calculations in the city’s land use code, which eventually settled on 60 units per square acre.

“We want to protect our neighborhood,” said Fiore, who served as mayor from 2000 to 2002 and worked for 35 years as an urban planner for Broward County.

Fiore told the Gazette his group is not anti-development but does object to six story mid-rises in the neighborhood. Overbuilding, Fiore said, threatens the charm, cuteness and funkiness of the city. He is in favor of Wilton Manors acquiring the Kiwanis Club, calling the property a “tremendous asset” that the city can afford and will bring in revenue.

“I’ve lived here for 53 years,” Fiore said. “I love my city.”

The East Neighborhood Association holds four meetings a year including a holiday party. Dues are $25 annually. Membership in a neighborhood association offers many benefits, Fiore said.

“It keeps you involved and informed about what is happening in your neighborhood and allows you to have a voice on matters impacting you,” he said.

Fiore said membership is around 60 people and the association’s boundaries have receded to Northeast 14th Ave. from the railroad tracks along N. Dixie Hwy.

In his interview with Awadalla, Cruttenden said the ENA is a top down model with tunnel vision in regards to development. He said there is enough space for two organized associations in east Wilton Manors and applauded the ENA’s efforts to clean up Northeast 26th Street and neighborhood waterways.

Cruttenden said development should not be the only issue to gain traction. Infrastructure, he said, is a major concern in east side neighborhoods due to king tides flooding. Crime and homelessness are other topics that need to be addressed.

“We don’t want to be one dimensional,” Cruttenden said.

Three Bridges will hold its first membership/informational meeting Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Hagen Park Community Center. The event coincides with Veteran’s Day and refreshments will be served.


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