Those who have wanted the lighted crosswalk in front of city hall on Wilton Drive moved to Northeast 20 Street finally have the answer they were looking for.

On July 22, the city announced that the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] had decided to install the lighted crosswalk there. A spokesperson said FDOT would also be completing a comprehensive traffic study in the next couple of weeks aimed at finding other ways to make the street safer. While the new crosswalk is constructed, FDOT will install signs to warn motorists of pedestrian activity. Mayor Gary Resnick said he expects the crosswalk to take about 12 months but officials will try and get FDOT to expedite the process.

The city’s announcement came one day after Wilton Manors resident Greg Futchi, 68, was killed crossing near 2000 Wilton Drive at 10:45 p.m. According to police, Futchi was not using a crosswalk when he was hit by a driver going southbound on the street. Other recent accidents on Wilton Drive also involved pedestrians not using crosswalks.

Futchi’s death led to a rally in front of city hall on July 24. Protesters demanded officials take action to make Wilton Drive safer. Four days later, they moved their protest inside city hall.

In a standing room only commission meeting on July 28, and with signs that read “Change the Drive Now,” and “Mayor Resnick Must Go” as well as pictures of Futchi, city officials were criticized for not taking action sooner.

“We have been patient. We have been waiting. The Drive has changed and so should we,” said

Doug Cureton, owner of Some Men Like It Haute on Wilton Drive. “I saw a car come to a screeching halt in front of my business to avoid hitting someone.”

Resident Doug Blevins said the time for debate is over. “It’s been studied to death . . . literally, as we’ve seen last week. But blaming will not bring back these precious lives. Take action now.”

This is the second death on Wilton Drive since 2010. Blevins and others also renewed their call to reduce Wilton Drive from four lanes to two.

The Two Lane Initiative, first suggested several years ago, calls for the city’s takeover of Wilton Drive, now owned by the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT]. Proponents of the Two Lane Initiative want to see parking spaces and landscaping added – similar to how Las Olas is configured.

Tom Tabor, one of the main proponents of the Two Lane Initiative, said Wilton Manors needs to follow the example set by other cities across the nation, which have already done similar projects.

Commissioners, who have balked at taking over the street in the past, seemed more willing to do so now.

“I don’t know how we can do this without a lane reduction. I, quite frankly, think it’s time to do this,” Commissioner Tom Green said. Commissioner Justin Flippen added, “I will not be satisfied until the road is made narrower and safer.”

According to FDOT, reconfiguring the road would cost about $500,000. Those who favor two lanes say revenue generated from parking could help fund the cost. Nick Berry, owner of Rumors and Courtyard Café, both on Wilton Drive, said business owners are willing to help fund improvements through the Business Improvement District set up for the street. “We want to be taxed,” he said.

Until then, said Tabor, the city should do whatever it can, including traffic cones, planters and striping the street, to slow down traffic.

But FDOT’s ownership of the road, said officials, precludes them from doing much in the short term and commissioners defended their previous attempts to work with FDOT in the past. That effort includes getting FDOT to lower the speed limit on Wilton Drive from 35 to 30 miles per hour and getting the signal crosswalk installed in front of city hall. The city tried years ago to get the crosswalk installed at Wilton Drive and Northeast 20 Street but FDOT denied the request in favor of putting it in front of city hall.

“The city has been working on this for a long time,” said Green who called for more crosswalks. “You can’t ask people to cross [at a crosswalk] if there are only four crosswalks.” He also called for a heavier police presence. “I hope Wilton Drive becomes known as a speed trap.”

The promised lighted crosswalk, said Vice Mayor Scott Newton, is also because of city efforts. “It’s not because of what happened to that gentleman. We have done things.”

Not everyone blamed Futchi’s death entirely on the road though.

Resident Kimber White, who was not at the meeting, said both pedestrians and the city are responsible for public safety. “I agree we have issues and they need [to be] addressed 150 percent but every accident and or death came from people jaywalking because it's too inconvenient to walk 50 feet to cross. We can put crosswalks at every corner but until the citizen participates in his or her own safety and our bars make sure their patrons are OK to leave, and if not assist them, we will not have the problem fixed.”