A tale of two cities competing for a commuter rail
I thoroughly enjoyed Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton’s column about the need for cities to work together on commuter rail. I could not agree more. It is critical that the Coastal Link project moves forward so the large and dense population along Florida’s East Coast corridor is serviced by a commuter rail projected to move millions of people a year. The line will also bring an economic boom and an environmentally conscious transportation option and deserves our support.
What the mayor did not mention is that the decision regarding future Broward train stops has been made for most cities. One exception is whether a stop will be in Wilton Manors or Oakland Park. The economic benefits are worth fighting for.
Our city is home to Funky Buddha Brewery, which hosts almost 200,000 patrons annually. Oakland Park also hosts popular events all year, including Broward’s biggest Oktoberfest celebration, Polynesian Cultural Festival, Holiday Village and newer events such as the Taste of Oakland Park and Dancing in the Street, all of which draw thousands of visitors.
Oakland Park has access to east-west highways and plans to expand multi-modal transportation in and around downtown. Access will be a challenge for Wilton Manors, with a train stop south of Five Points on North Dixie Highway, a two-lane corridor.
Oakland Park owns land where the train stop could best serve the citizens of both cities. City-owned lots south of Funky Buddha could be quickly developed and would create opportunities for residential, retail, and commercial development.
I embrace the mayor’s “working together” sentiment, but a little friendly competition between cities is not a bad thing. I hope the best city is chosen and I am confident that city is Oakland Park. In the spirit of cooperation, I want Mayor Newton to know we have branded the stop in Oakland Park as a shared location, with the working title of WilM.O Park.
We even put Wilton Manors first. That’s the spirit of cooperation — and of Oakland Park.
David Hebert, City Manager, Oakland Park
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