Now dont you go and get distracted for just one second, cause you might just miss Christmas as the year races by at a faster and faster pace. I havent even gotten rid of Halloween candy and Thanksgiving decorations yet and Christmas is just a week away. 

aasfgnDonate121519 2Holiday festivities are all around us here in the Island City. Breakfast with Santa, neighborhood holiday parties, concerts and so much more are keeping us all very busy the past few weeks. Hopefully one day in the near future we will see more holiday lights up and down Wilton Drive, transforming our main corridor into a holiday spectacular. Perhaps the Wilton Drive Improvement District and the Wilton Manors Business Association can come up with a strategy to make this dream of many residents more of a reality next holiday season. 

So, what have we done here in our Island City, another year over with a new one soon to begin?  This past year has seen a lot of action throughout our Island City. Much still a work in progress.  Hopefully we will begin to see some of the projects finalized and in place before we reach this time next year. Major zoning and Land Use changes for the Andrews Avenue/Oakland Park Blvd corridor, wayfinding signs throughout the city, streetscaping along Wilton Drive, public art installations, Colohatchee Park improvements, Westside drainage projects, and changes in our city’s code will all continue to make our city a better and better place for all of us. 

Here on the Westside of town, many are grateful for the citys continued support for our community. The multi-million-dollar redevelopment of Mickel Park a few years back transformed a long un-used park facility into a sparkling gem treasured not just by Westside residents but by our entire city! 

Over the last two to three years we have seen an equal commitment by our city to bring about necessary zoning changes along the vital corridor of Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Blvd.  Such changes do not happen overnight and might take a bit longer than most of us would like, however it is still a work in progress that one day soon will start to yield much needed improvements along this vital corridor. The city has also continued with approving the use of certain grant funding sources for much needed drainage projects throughout the Westside to the satisfaction of many residents living within and around such problem areas. 

Not everything is peachy keen. There are many problems that need to be dealt with. Certain properties consistently offer challenges for the surrounding community with issues such as property upkeep, cleanliness and usage. However, this is not unique to just the Westside of town.  Empty storefronts plague Wilton Drive and other areas of our city. Trash bins left overflowing after busy weekend nights in front of popular nightspots.

The boarded-up deteriorating church property on the Eastside of town along NE 26th Street as well underutilized shopping plazas in the area are daily nuisances to all driving by each day. 

Our city is only two square miles and we are all in this together. This does not mean we should just accept these problems, turning a blind eye as we drive past them every day. No, we must be vigilant and demand action, but we must do it together as concerned residents of our Island City. 

 Pointing fingers, creating hatred and stoking fear seems to be the norm in the world we live in today. Keeping such behavior from penetrating the borders of our island city might be just the greatest gift we can give ourselves this holiday season. 

There is nothing wrong in demanding attention or answers to your questions, but please do it respectfully of others around you, of hardworking city staff, and without pointing accusatory fingers at others. 

We can continue to create the most spectacular Island City together as a community that works together, not always in agreement but always respectful and understanding of one another and the process we call democracy.

So, dont hesitate to complain and report problems in our community such as code violations, suspected criminal activity, illegal door to door solicitors, and illegal rental properties. Join your neighborhood association, attend city meetings, contact your elected officials, call city management, and especially talk with your neighbors. 

At a time in world history that we are faced with global challenges such as climate change, concentration of wealth in the hands of just a few, global expansion of powerful corporations, and costly healthcare issues, we find ourselves living in a more fractured world of Brexit, trade wars, powerful oligarchs, and the demise of global cooperation,  full of hate driven rhetoric and false news. 

We have our work cut out for us—but in the end, only by working together respectfully can we continue to make life just better here.

So … A very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year; let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.

Happy Holidays.