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This past week was the annual Summer Break for our City Commission. The first meeting of August has become the unofficial summer holiday for our elected officials. However, this past week had no shortage of activities to keep Manorites from getting their regular fix of city-related business. 

The Wilton Manors Business Association hosted a Roundtable with business owners to discuss the needs of this vital community. Recent rumblings of high rents along the Drive and recent business closings have set off some alarms. Not to worry, there are many very successful and highly profitable business operating along the Drive and throughout our city. 

These businesses are thriving because they have invested in their business, created a valuable product to offer consumers, looked to solve and create parking solutions that work for their customers, and don’t waste valuable time running around town making excuses of why their businesses are not doing better. 

Hunter’s Nightclub offers a first-class experience for their patrons in a clean and well-maintained establishment. Rosie’s is consistently the place to be seen at lunch or Sunday Brunch, with valet parking making your arrival hassle free. Alibi’s loyal customer base keeps coming back for great cocktails and entertainment. Infinity Lounge and Dyrnk have established themselves amongst those seeking a more upscale cocktail lounge experience, and The Pub always looks busy when I am walking by on my way to the Wilton Creamery for some of the best ice cream in South Florida. 

Yes, there are some major problems along the Drive. One large property owner who refuses to upgrade properties as he continues to charge higher and higher rents might be the greatest one.  Restaurants and innovative small businesses cannot make it with a high rent payment every month. That’s a known reality, and many new restaurants fail under the best of circumstances. 

However, smart restauranteurs who know how to secure a good lease, create a theme, deliver on good food and service and who are just plain lucky can still call the Drive home. Carol Moran is back in town and working on opening yet another successful eatery for us to enjoy. 

An additional obstacle is the many years of denial by our city officials that parking is not a problem. We should have had a municipal parking structure constructed years ago. We looked to create a thriving Arts & Entertainment District without a large-scale parking plan in place from the beginning. City officials now look to alternative options and residents should make use of the Uber and Lyft discounts offered on weekend nights. Check the city’s website for additional information. 

Later in the week, the three neighborhood associations hosted our U.S. Congressman, Ted Deutch. The turnout was surprisingly low, perhaps due to clever residents choosing to get some free pizza and beverages at the Dolphin Democrats meeting where the Congressman was heading after our meeting at Hagen Park Community Center. 

The intimate crowd led the Congressman to ditch his prepared remarks and hold a very informative Q &A with membership. We also had the unique opportunity to enjoy the Congressman playing the grand piano and entertaining us. Mayor Flippen was on hand to introduce the Congressman, and Commissioners Carson and Rolli were also in attendance. Many thanks to Congressman Deutch for the great job taking care of the needs of his district.

In closing I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a true American icon this past week, Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison demonstrated the power of the written word to challenge us to become a better America. 

In a time of rising hatred, discourse and extremist attacks throughout our nation, Morrison’s legacy of work assures us all that the imagination can bring about a world of peace, love, justice and stability.  

Back in 1977, my high school English Lit teacher handed me a new copy of the “Song of Solomon”to read and report on. My young mind was quickly taken on an eye-opening journey from my young white male existence to the world of such rich and troubling complexity of a young black female.I remember naively asking my teacher to explain why a black woman needed to oil her skin with olive oil. 

I remember her smiling as she described the meaning of the scene in the book. I am sure the smile was also from the joy of successfully educating a young student with the power of words and reading. Reading about other people’s fears, hopes, troubles, wishes and dreams made me understand that those around me who I saw as different were really just as screwed up as I was.  

Thank you, Miss Lynch, for being a great high school teacher and thank you, Toni Morrison, for such wonderful words that still challenge us to become better human beings.

Teaching young minds and reminding old ones as well, to imagine, to learn, and to dream beyond their immediate world to a place of amazing possibilities will always make life just better here.

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