As we begin the new year, I want to first wish you and your family blessings, good health, and happiness in 2020.
An important mission of your city government, and one I am committed to as mayor, is protecting and improving our shared quality of life which includes city services, public safety, neighborhood preservation, economic development, mobility (how we get around town), and all that makes our community a place we are proud to call home.
To stay on mission and ensure Wilton Manors thrives, we must put in place the best planning tools and elements for our sake and that of our future residents. We have ridden the wave of constant and increased property values as a key revenue source, but the tax burden on property owners, despite our decision to not increase the tax mileage rate, cannot sustain us indefinitely and frankly should not be all we look to in order to keep Wilton Manors vibrant.
Your city commission, with the input of residents, has been having some pretty big and important public discussions on this subject, because if we aren’t proactive, we realistically cannot continue to maintain what we all love about Wilton Manors.
So then what must we do to keep the city strong and sustainable (both economically and environmentally)? How can we make Wilton Manors a more livable city, more affordable to all regardless of age from those in our workforce to those enjoying retirement, who look call the Island City their home?
Our key opportunities are:
* pursuing strategic growth,
* fostering redevelopment, and
* executing our economic development strategic plan.
Our key challenge is an unfavorable local economy for redevelopment because:
* past success has left us with land that is
* outdated ordinances don’t allow for practical strategic growth.
To counteract and face those challenges and optimize our opportunities, experts have shared relevant data to suggest that updating our land development regulations can help attract growth and allow us to accomplish our economic development goals which include working to secure a hotel to serve our healthy tourism market and to attract passenger rail.
A recent grant allowed the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to develop a train station/platform area master plan for Wilton Manors that included not only the physical master plan of the platform station but also transportation improvements, market feasibility with economic analysis, implementation strategies, as well as streetscape and beautification of the area around the proposed platform station. That plan was debuted in the second half of 2019 and is available on the city’s website.
Key recommendations of the master plan were that the city should:
1) increase density on transit-oriented corridors with incentives to promote redevelopment,
2) continue to add sidewalks, lighting, and bicycle lanes,
3) consider incentives to attract a hotel development, and
4) optimize the value of key public sites
including the Public Works Complex on Dixie
Highway and the land surrounding City Hall.
I remain strongly committed to working with your city commissioners and management in the coming year to ensure the economic and social vitality of our community by reviewing the plan’s recommendations closely to understand and implement them. Strategically planning for our city’s best and nothing less with experts, stakeholders, and fellow residents in the thoughtful, methodical, transparent, and public way we operate is another reason why “Life’s Just Better Here” in Wilton Manors.
Mayor of Wilton Manors
– Justin Flippen