Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 111815 Contents Business
Two-lane Wilton Drive May
Happen Without High Cost to City
4 • November 18, 2015
By Michael d'Oliveira
More than a year after Broward instituted its
county-wide 911 dispatch system in October of
2014, problems persist.
Last month, at a Wilton Manors Commission
meeting, Chief Paul O'Connell apologized for his
department not responding quickly to a call from
The resident, who asked not to be named, lives
behind Richardson Park and called about a man
who was watching him and his partner through
their fence. The man eventually left without
causing harm. "They're just concerned about why
the police never showed up to their home," said
Mayor Gary Resnick.
Resnick said the man matches the description
of someone seen checking front doors in the same
neighborhood. "It could have been worse. When
something like that occurs, police need to be able
to respond," Resnick said. The mayor brought up
the issue at the meeting. "I don't normally raise
resident issues with our staff at commission
meetings but this involves public safety."
O'Connell said the delay was caused by two
officers busy with another call and the third was
in the middle of a shift change. O'Connell said
police were unable to respond on time because
they were busy dealing with another call. "We did
respond but we responded too late. We could have
reached out to Fort Lauderdale or Oakland Park
[Wilton Manors has mutual aid agreements with
both cities] but we didn't."
O'Connell also cited the county dispatch
system as part of the problem.
"The phone number we received from
dispatch was the wrong number so we had no
way of contacting him. Dispatch told us he did not
want to be contacted."
As for not checking on the issue sooner after
it occurred, "All that being said, I should have
followed-up with this guy myself. If the phone
number was wrong I could basically walk across
the street and knock on his front door. I should
have done that and I didn't. My apologies to the
"There's a lot of incidents where dispatch has
gotten things wrong," Resnick said. "Believe me,
it's not just Wilton Manors. It's county-wide,"
Also critical of the county system is County
Commissioner Chip LaMarca. "I'm at a loss as to
why we didn't go out and fund the best operating
system in the county, implement those best
practices. We're still having issues. I'm hoping it
will come into line but I'm not expecting that,"
Rick Carpani, the former director of Broward's
Office of Regional Communications and
Technology who resigned Nov. 13, said the main
issues deal mainly with the operations as opposed
to technology. Carpani said he resigned to take a
job in the private sector.
"BSO is struggling with addressing [correctly
identifying the right address in the right city].
They're not used to taking calls county-wide,"
he said. "I don't think the operators realized that
how big a problem that was going to be."
O'Connell, president of the Broward County
Chiefs of Police Association, recently sent a letter
to the county to discuss concerns about the
Chief Apologizes for Police No Show
911 call system under scrutiny
A plan to reduce Northeast 4 Avenue
in Fort Lauderdale has given hope to
those who want to see Wilton Drive go
from four lanes to two.
Commissioners voted on Nov. 10
to apply to the Florida Department of
Transportation [FDOT] to extend the
narrowing Fort Lauderdale wants to do
with Northeast 4 Avenue.
At various times throughout the
past decade, residents and business
owners have called upon the city to take
ownership, enact the Two Lane Initiative
and reduce the number of lanes on
Wilton Drive. The Two Lane Initiative
would redesign the street to more closely
resemble Las Olas Boulevard with
landscaping and trees in the medians
and only one dedicated travel lane each
way.Commissioners have resisted though,
mainly because of the estimated cost
-- FDOT approximates it could cost as
much as $500,000 to reconfigure the
street into two lanes and up to $85,000
to maintain it. But now, the street could
be reduced without significant cost to
The possibility of not having to spend
hundreds of thousands of dollars has
commissioners hopeful but cautions. At
their meeting, they stressed the city was
only applying to piggy back onto Fort
"It's not going to get pushed through,"
said Vice Mayor Scott Newton.
The real decision, they said, will come
when they learn how much it will cost
and after the public has had plenty of
opportunity to review the project. Mayor
Gary Resnick promised public hearings
and suggested a referendum to ensure
the public has a chance to speak out.
Even if approved tomorrow, city
officials said the design phase wouldn't
start until 2016-2017 and it would be
years before everything was finished.
"Some of you who are young will live
to see this," joked Commissioner Tom
On a serious note, Green said the city
would have to be very careful about how
a change to the road would impact traffic
at the Five Points end. The change could
create a bottleneck at the intersection.
The problem could be even worse with
the planned addition of commuter trains
along the railroad tracks at Five Points.
City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson
said that if FDOT approves the request
the Metropolitan Planning Organization
would help the city apply for grants.
"Let's get on with it," said Father John
Joseph Reid who compared Wilton Drive
to a speedway. Paul Rolli, president of the
Central Area Neighborhood Association,
also supports the Two Lane Initiative.
"The city will grow around it."
Resident Doug Blevins, chair of the
Wilton Drive Business Improvement
District board, said narrowing the street
would improve public safety.
But not everyone who spoke at the
meeting was in favor.
Resident Boyd Corbin said the project
would be extremely expensive and
Resident Paul Kuta called the city's
support for Fort Lauderdale a "back-
door, secretive attempt to narrow Wilton
Drive without even a public hearing."
Whether two lanes or four, FDOT is
already making changes to Wilton Drive.
Vice Mayor Scott Newton said the
new pedestrian light signal at Northeast
20 Street would be fully functional by
But Green warned people they still
need to exercise caution and make sure
traffic stops. "Push the button and be
When the crossing is finished,
Resnick said there would be two
pedestrian crossings in that area of
Wilton Drive. "At city hall, they're leaving
the existing light up." WMG
Concerned over the safety of residents and the aesthetic
impact, commissioners approved a 180-day moratorium on
new telecommunications towers and antennas.
Mayor Gary Resnick, an attorney who specializes in
telecommunications issues and serves as the chair of the
Federal Communications Commission's Intergovernmental
Advisory Committee, said the city already has sufficient
The moratorium, he said, was to prevent new towers and
antennas while the commission has time to come up with
permanent regulations on where they can be placed. He said
that additional towers were already being built in other cities
and that more could be built in Wilton Manors.
Towers are already permitted in rights of way but no rules
exist to prevent them from being constructed in residential
areas. "You may not want an antenna five feet from your
bedroom," Resnick said.
City Attorney Kerry Ezrol will work on a permanent
ordinance and present it to commissioners at a future meeting.
"It really is in the nature of a zoning change," Ezrol said. WMG
City Bans New Cell Towers For Now
By Michael d'Oliveira
By Michael d'Oliveira
Links Archive SFGN 111115 SFGN 112515 Navigation Previous Page Next Page