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Three transportation projects were green-lighted by the Wilton Manors commission, part of an overall effort to advance mobility plans for better pedestrian connectivity.  

Commissioners voted unanimously to enter into a construction and maintenance agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for work on Northwest 29th Street between Powerline Road and Andrews Avenue. The project calls for lane width reduction to include bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the street.

The project, however, does have its detractors.

“I think it is ridiculous to add four foot-wide bicycle lanes on both sides of the very busy and narrow NW 29th Street,” said resident Paul Kuta. “I oppose narrowing heavily trafficked roads in Wilton Manors because they cause problems for trucks and service vehicles and cause back-ups.”

City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said a door-knocking outreach effort was made on the street with two more public meetings planned. Construction, Henderson said, begins in late summer.

Commissioner Gary Resnick asked for designs for the project and suggested city management approach Somerset Academy Village about the incoming changes.

“Maybe you could talk to the church or the charter school and get them to do something about their fence,” Resnick told Henderson. “It looks more like a prison fence than a fence for a school.”

On another unanimous vote, commissioners approved an agreement with planning and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn for improvements to Northeast 26th Street between Dixie Highway and Middle River. Broward County surtax funds will be used in redesigning the current sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The third project, approved on another unanimous vote, calls for installation, maintenance and repairs to the existing Wilton Drive landscaping and irrigation system. Green Construction Technologies won the contract for phase two work on the Wilton Drive Lane Elimination Project.  

Other notes from the March 22 meeting:

A classification and compensation study was presented to the commission by HR Compensation Consultants. The study found 28 employees fell below the minimum pay range and 73 employees needed equity adjustments. The cost of the adjustments is $351,824. Commissioner Chris Caputo expressed concerns over turnover, noting the city recently lost three Leisure Services Department employees to Dunkin’ Donuts.

The city approved an event permit for the Stonewall Parade and Street Festival. The annual event, which draws an estimated 35,000 people, is scheduled for June 18.

Former Commissioner Julie Carson and police officer Nikki Cox were presented with awards in honor of Women’s History Month. Carson, attending the meeting with her mother Louise, who recently celebrated her 95th birthday, said she was “touched” by the honor. Wilton Manors Police Chief Gary Blocker said Officer Cox’s passion for her profession and commitment to service is “next level.”

Vice Mayor Paul Rolli asked City Attorney Kerry Ezrol to keep the commission updated on the status of an elections bill that passed both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. SB/HB 524 creates a new bureau to investigate election crimes and awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. Ezrol said the new law prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting.

Commissioner Mike Bracchi asked for city staff to review code to determine which laws are not being enforced. Bracchi referred to the use of plastic straws as an example.

Resnick asked for a revision of the city’s vacation rentals regulations to include that at least one adult age 21 or older be on property while the unit is rented. Mayor Scott Newton said he’d be ok if the age minimum was 25.

Resident Michael Rajner said the city is preparing to disband its Civil Service Board in November without providing an alternative for employees who may need recourse. “I continue to be alarmed that there is a referendum to sunset the Civil Service Board,” said Rajner, who phoned in to the meeting via Zoom from Brazil.

The meeting lasted two hours and 47 minutes. The next regular commission meeting is April 12.

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