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Planning and pride matter to Wilton Manors. They both can define and help guide a community and demonstrate what’s important to people who see themselves as neighbors and stakeholders with a long term vested interest in their city’s future.

I am pleased to report to you that the city is moving forward with our waste and storm water inventory study as an important tool in maintenance and continued operation of our wastewater system. I also look forward to examining the general water rate structure once the study is complete, as I believe an improved and more fair tiered rate structure is worth looking at. We are also continuing with our code rewrite and have engaged a consultant to help with urban land use planning, green building code updates, and design guideline standards as we seek to best position the city for strategic development opportunities. So when you hear of public workshops on these future planning items, I hope you will attend and provide your feedback. City hall site master planning is something we are also undertaking to help us maximize our city hall property to hopefully include improved parking options (maybe even something with a shared parking structure). Rather than ruling out opportunities, I want to see opportunities maximized in a way that plans for our city’s future 20-30 years out. 

How the Island City celebrates its identity is unique to us. When one paddles around the waters of Wilton Manors whether in canoe competition or leisurely by SUP or kayak, the reality that we are an Island City is best experienced. In fact, during waterway cleanups and paddling with friends, I’ve had the special experience of passing beside a manatee — reminding me and those aboard that our diversity doesn’t always come by land and have two legs. Speaking of legs, I hope those of you with barking four-legged pets will take your dogs out to enjoy the recently opened Colohatchee Dog Park. Just remember to get your canine companions registered with the city to have access to all the fun your pups are sure to experience in their new park play areas.

While we are the Island City, no man or woman is an island in our community. We are a wonderful mix of neighbors from all walks of life — from other parts of the nation to other countries in the world, a people of varied races, ethnicities, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. From neighborhoods we have created to parks we have established for our families to the way we celebrate our community identity — we have much to be proud about.

One way our community celebrates pride is with the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival during National LGBT+ Pride Month in June, which this year commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. What began in 1969 as a demonstration by patrons of New York City’s Stonewall Inn against unfair treatment by the police became a catalyst for the LGBT+ civil rights movement across the nation. America has come a long way in advancing LGBT+ equality, and Wilton Manors has benefited from becoming a city that welcomes all, a place where our residents — LGBT+ and allies — continue to build a stronger community together. This includes fostering a business community that caters to and proudly serves patrons from all walks of life. We are fortunate organizations like the Pride Center at Equality Park, Stonewall Gallery, Island City Stage, World AIDS Museum, and numerous art galleries call Wilton Manors home and that our city government creates and sponsors events in which families of all kinds can take pride. Our annual one-day Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival brings in tens of thousands of visitors to the city. Whether from an economic or social justice perspective, equality simply makes dollars and sense.

For as long as I am blessed to serve you, you can count on me to support policies and practices that are pro-equality, a hallmark value that defines us as Island City People, gives us a sense of pride, and is another reason why “life’s just better here.”

In your service,

Justin Flippen