After years of debate over development, city codes, consultant studies and more, Wilton Manors seems poised to see groundbreaking along 26th Street east of the railroad tracks.
But the use and accessibility of the road is still being debated.
At the city commission meeting on Feb. 28, commissioners were updated on several projects that are either planned, underway, or completed. The only one that raised their eyebrows, and their ire, was how to proceed at 26th Street.
The plan has been debated and tweaked for months and calls for it to be a “Complete Street,” which is a set of standards for accessibility ranging from width of sidewalks, bike lanes, and more. The area set to be developed will bring about 300 new units plus street level shops to that plaza.
The problem: there’s no place to cross the street between 15th Ave. and Five Points.
A person from the engineering consulting firm and a Broward County engineer were on hand to explain the ins and outs of road improvements. The circular reasoning goes like this: to get a crosswalk, you need to do a study to see if there are enough pedestrians crossing there, but since there’s no crosswalk, the study will show it’s not needed.
Commissioner Chris Caputo, who jokingly admitted he jaywalks there, pointed out the most extreme solution. “Do we need to just go and have a whole bunch of people run across the road back and forth and some of them get hit? This is absurd.”
Mayor Scott Newton says dangerous crossings are already an issue and it’s going to get worse.
“I see people walk across there all the time. If we get 300 units there a lot of people are gonna walk straight across. It’s dangerous. If a new project comes up there should be a traffic light there.”
Commissioner Paul Rolli pointed out that for planning purposes, the county looks at past use and doesn’t consider the future.
Vice Mayor Mike Bracchi got the engineers to admit very few of the suggestions made in public forums were considered or incorporated.
“I think we have to go back and take public input, hear what the residents want and what the residents don’t want.”
He also pointed out that if the city is going to get a crosswalk there, it’s now or never.
“Once we finish this project, Broward County is not going to look at it again for … years. If we don’t get it right now, that’s our future for the next 20 to 30 years on 26th Street.”
Also during the meeting, WMPD Chief Gary Blocker recognized the hard work and bravery of some officers. The Life-Saving Award was given to Acting Sergeant Loughran, as well as Officers Cox, Leone, and Martinez.
On Jan. 14 at about 5:30 a.m., they were called to a possible rollover accident at 7th Ave and 20th St. When they didn’t see the car, they searched nearby and found it in a nearby canal. On one of the coldest nights of the year, they went into action and freed the driver and got them to aid at the seawall.
Officer Leone was also presented with Officer of the Year 2022.
Other honors presented were Officer of the 4th Quarter to Sylvie Fils. Civilian Employee of the 4th quarter went to Records Specialist Tishelle Todman, while Civilian Employee of the Year 2022 went to Code Supervisor Abel Alberro.