City growth is focused mainly on Midtown

Between campaigning and serving in office, I have been speaking to residents about my city of Plantation for more than a year now.

  And I have come to an interesting realization: A 30-year project that the city has been working on has a name and a plan that the public has not connected well with. So we need to explain it better.

  The city has been working three decades to create “Midtown.” That’s the area bordered by University Drive and Pine Island Road (east-west) and Sunrise Boulevard down to Interstate 595 (north-south). The idea is for that to be a denser area with apartment living, restaurants, etc.

 City councilmembers long before me have been mapping out this long-term vision for our city. The idea is, yes, the city will grow, but most of it will be confined to that area.

Here’s the link:

  The topic of Midtown came up again on Friday, when Mayor Lynn Stoner addressed Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale, at the Sheraton Suites Plantation, located, of course, in Midtown. Stoner documented all the new growth coming to that area, including:

 Plantation Walk, located at the former Fashion Mall site, with apartments, offices and restaurants.

 A refurbished portion of Westfield Broward Mall, which will include upscale restaurants such as YOLO.

 An Aldi supermarket, on Broward Boulevard near TGI Friday’s and Ole Ole.

 Apartments near Cleary Boulevard and Pine Island (the old American Express building).

  This growth, naturally, comes with a price – i.e., increased traffic. Stoner is also working to create traffic alternatives. That includes getting “adaptive lighting” (i.e., lights that turn red, green or yellow based on traffic flow) on University Drive from Sunrise Boulevard to Griffin Road. She pushed and the county agreed to move it up the priority list. It had been scheduled for Year Five. Now, it will be implemented in 2020.

There also are alternative routes planned between University Drive and Pine Island, thus keeping those traversing inside of Midtown from going out to either of those main roads. Long-term plans also include easier entry onto I-595 from University Drive and even a bridge between University and Pine Island that would enable cars to stay off those roads to enter westbound State Road 84. There also will be cycling paths for those who prefer to make a short trip via bike.

Yes, there are going to be big dusty machines and inconveniences. No two ways about it. But there will be more events such as the free movie night the Chamber Commerce offered at the Fountains Friday night. Or outdoor concerts, when the remodeling of Pine Island Park is complete, with walkable dining nearby. And the apartments will attract younger residents, who (hopefully) will place roots in Plantation and become our next generation of buyers when they want to move into a house.

Like I said, the city has been working on this plan for more than 30 years. We even have a Midtown Advisory Board, which, coincidentally, has its bi-monthly meeting at noon Wednesday at the city’s Development Services building, 401 NW 70th Terrace. The public is welcome.

School days

 Council member Denise Horland has instituted a tradition at city council meetings that I’m intending to perpetuate. At the March 6 meeting, Horland invited students from Plantation Middle School to lead the meeting in the pledge of allegiance. (The honor of giving opening remarks and leading the pledge rotates among council members.) It’s my turn March 20 and I have invited Mirror Lake Elementary students to lead the pledge.

 You also might be noticing increased involvement in our Plantation schools by our council members. I have visited with school officials, looking for ways we can use our positions as leaders to support their endeavors. Stay tuned.

 And, while I’m at it, the Plantation High Parent-Teacher-Student Organization is looking for someone to process their required annual financial report. If you’re an accountant with a few hours to donate, with a June 30 deadline, email me at

Coming up

The GFWC Plantation Woman’s Club and the city host the Garden Fest Plant Extravaganza from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Volunteer Park, 12050 W. Sunrise Blvd. The weekend includes nature seminars, food and music. Call 954-530-0076.

  I am encouraging cycling as a means of transportation in our city, and to that end, it’s great to encourage young people to ride their bikes. A free bicycle scavenger hunt for those ages 7 through 10 from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Plantation Central Park. The event includes a safety presentation by the Plantation Police Department. (Bring your own bike and helmet.) Call 954-452-2510.

 The City Council meets again at 7:30 p.m. March 20, and I think there’s a good chance we’ll be discussing vacation rentals again. At our March 6 meeting, we approved plans for a Chase Bank to replace the IHOP on the northeast corner of Broward Boulevard and State Road 7, and we worked out signage that was more in line with our city codes at the Winn-Dixie just north of Cleary on the west side of Nob Hill Road.

And, even though it’s not in Plantation, I want to encourage residents to take part in the second annual “We Are Stoneman Douglas” fund-raiser for victims of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting. The event is 4-8 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at Parkland Golf and Country Club, and costs $175. A massive number of restaurants hand out food, there’s music and plenty of dessert. There’s also another, fun way to support the cause for those who don’t want to attend. Please to go to register and participate in the online auction for trips, food events and gift items.

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