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Pay to park could be coming back to Wilton Manors, but what will it look like?

During last week’s virtual commission meeting, a discussion on paid parking meters commenced. 

“Everyone is reluctant to bring parking fees back,” said Acting Mayor Tom Green in a telephone conversation with The Wilton Manors Gazette. “Fort Lauderdale raised their parking fees. We still have to vote on it. The bar owners are not really happy about it.”

Green said the parking discussion will continue at the commission’s next meeting on Oct. 27, which will be his last as acting mayor. Wilton Manors currently has a contract with Atlanta-based Lanier Parking Solutions

“It’s really tough,” Commissioner Julie Carson said. “Our business community is suffering a great deal, however at the same time we have a parking fund that is diminished. If we want to be fully robust I’d like to see us bring the fees back. If we do it, we need to do it with plenty of notice and proper education. I’m certainly willing to support bringing the fees back at the rate that they were before.”

Previously, the rate was $1.25 per hour. Carson said she looks forward to the public comment and exploring ways of transporting people into the city that are not car-related.

Jason Basilico, a business owner and commission candidate, asked that paid parking meter enforcement be reinstated when businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity and normal hours. Basilico also expressed concern for the upcoming Halloween weekend and the expected increase in foot traffic in the arts and entertainment district. 

“The last thing we need is a huge spike in [COVID-19] cases causing a longer delay in getting back to normal,” Basilico said.

Along with parking, commissioners discussed a new landscaping agreement, a development proposal at 2041 NE 9th Ave., litigation with Challenge Fitness over a noise ordinance violation and listened to feedback from residents.

One of those residents, Michael Rajner, criticized the city’s police department for canceling its National Night Out program.

“I think it was a missed opportunity for the police department during a time where law enforcement is trying to really engage with communities and dialogue,” Rajner said. “I think the police department should have considered trying to do the event via Zoom citywide. They probably could have engaged more with residents on issues of policing and crime and how to protect your home more. They do a lot working through some of the neighborhood associations, which is great but a lot of people are not part of neighborhood associations.”

Rajner suggested the police department reach out through Zoom and reschedule the National Night Out program. 

At the start of the meeting, proclamations were issued recognizing activists Jesse Monteagudo and Barbara Stuart. Monteagudo is a Cuban American gay rights activist and SFGN columnist, while Stuart served for many years as president of the Broward Teachers Union and was an antagonist of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.