The coronavirus pandemic may not be over yet, but Oakland Park residents can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
During the city commission’s Tuesday night meeting, City Manager David Hebert made his final coronavirus presentation as well as announced updates on city programming.
“I just really want to say thank you to everyone,” Mayor Jane Bolin said. “I’m glad that this is our last presentation; it really highlights how we really stepped up as a team from some really remarkable leadership from this commission, the city manager, and senior leadership.”
For over a year, Hebert has made a presentation to the commission at each meeting to update them on coronavirus numbers locally and at the state level, as well as information about the city’s outreach programs. As numbers continue to decline, he will no longer be giving these presentations but will still keep tabs on the virus.
The city will also be discontinuing its weekly drive-through food distribution events at Mills Pond Park in Fort Lauderdale on May 27. The events are a partnership with the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors and largely staffed by city employees on a volunteer basis. Hebert said staff has been sharing resources to attendees of other places they can get assistance.
The city’s vaccination pod at Collins Community Center is no longer open; many locations have closed as the demand for vaccinations has decreased. Some programs will continue, however, including rental assistance, water bill payment options, and help with Comcast bills.
“I think we’re just at the precipice of what’s going to impact our most vulnerable communities in Oakland Park,” Bolin said.
Hebert announced that the city’s Parade of Orchids program surpassed its $10,000; residents have the opportunity to adopt an orchid to be planted at Stunson Nature Trail Park for just $5 as a thank you to people who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. The first 100 orchids were planted last summer by the Fort Lauderdale Orchid Club and Fairchild Botanical Gardens. Proceeds from the fundraiser go to the Urban Farming Institute, the city’s community garden.
Hebert also told the commission that the city will be opening up its summer programming for kids, including childcare, but in limited numbers. Some adult activities will also be opening back up.
“This rollout is being done cautiously and strategically until we get to a point where we get more comfortable,” he said. “We will learn as we go as we did on the front end as we rolled back on our operations.”
After the presentation, the commissioners gave special thanks to city staffers who have volunteered their time and worked overtime to get the city through the pandemic. Commissioners gave a special thank you to Commissioner Matthew Sparks, who served as mayor at the beginning of the pandemic, and Bolin.