It’s not a distinction Sal Torre wants for his neighborhood.
At the July 12 commission meeting, Torre, president of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors [WAWM], jokingly lamented about the fact that WAWM, the area of the city located west of Andrews Avenue, is now eligible for Community Block Grant [CDBG] funding.
CDBG funds, which are provided by the federal government, are given out on an annual basis and can be used in lower income neighborhoods. The purpose is to improve the lives of low to moderate income individuals or neighborhoods. In years past, only the Highlands Estates neighborhood was eligible for funding.
“It gives us more opportunities to do things,” said Todd DeJesus, capital projects and grants manager.
But now that the area west of Andrews Avenue is eligible, Torre was one of the first to offer suggestions on how the money, estimated at $64,000 if approved, is spent by the city. Those suggestions were improvements to sidewalks, lighting and adding shade rest areas for pedestrians.
And city officials say they want more suggestions.
Past projects in Highlands Estates include road resurfacing, drainage, crosswalks and fencing and an emergency generator at Island City Park Preserve. Tracy Stafford, former State Representative and Wilton Manors mayor who uses a wheelchair, urged commissioners to do as much as they can to ensure people in wheelchairs can easily navigate sidewalks and crosswalks.
Grant requirements, said DeJesus, demand that the money be spent on one project rather than several. Residents can submit ideas directly to the city or attend the next public hearing on the issue, scheduled during the Aug. 23 commission meeting. After the community gives its input, commissioners will make a decision and apply for the funds. Applications are due in December.