By Michael d’Oliveira | Editor
Pompano Beach – Concerned that a possible new streetscape project along Atlantic Boulevard would turn into a repeat of what happened at Atlantic Boulevard and Dixie Highway, some residents spoke out against it.
At the April 26 meeting, the city presented its plan to request penny surtax transportation funds for an Atlantic Boulevard streetscape project between 2 Avenue and 18 Avenue.
The project, which is still in the preliminary stages, say city officials, includes reconfiguring median and lane widths, road resurfacing, lighting upgrades, sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, additional landscaping and the loss of some on street parking spaces.
“The intent is to enhance multi-modal mobility and accessibility, improve resiliency, reduce overall traffic congestion, while also improving safety by reducing vehicle, pedestrian and bike crashes. The improvements will also maintain the functionality of this important evacuation route,” reads a portion of one city document regarding the project.
But to some residents, the city’s proposed changes would worsen traffic congestion, not improve it.
“It’s very troubling in terms of the amount of traffic we continue to invite,” said Ed Phillips, former city commissioner. “We’re growing here and there’s an awful lot of development. I’m very concerned.”
Allison Fournier, who recently launched her campaign for Commissioner Tom McMahon’s District 3 seat, said the city is planning to narrow the roadway too much. According to the city’s design rendering, the proposed lanes are 10 and 11 feet.
Fournier said the proposed roadways are narrower than Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] guidelines recommend.
“I don’t believe that is entirely accurate,” responded Development Services Director David Recor, who emphasized that no lanes will be eliminated as part of this project.
“To me that’s vague. That’s not a yes or no. To me that means we need to look into it,” said resident Maureen Gaviola.
According to a 2021 FDOT roadway design manual, the minimum lane width recommendation for a roadway with a posted speed limit of 25 to 35 mph [that stretch of Atlantic is 35] is 10 feet. If truck traffic volume exceeds 10 percent, FDOT recommends an 11-foot roadway.
“We the people have to live with this,” said resident K. Johnson. “Think about the people who live here and elect you. Not the tourists.”
Commissioner Andrea McGee asked if narrowing lanes will cause drivers to reduce their speed. Recor responded that it does. She added that the private sector invests if the city invests in itself.
Commissioner Cyndy Floyd made a motion to table the issue so commissioners would have more time to review it. Only Vice Mayor Beverly Perkins supported Floyd’s motion and it failed. Perkins said the city commission should have been made aware of the request sooner. A vote to submit the application passed 4-2, Perkins and Floyd dissenting.
“All we’re really doing is seeking grant dollars for a street improvement project,” said Commissioner Rhonda Eaton. Commissioners won’t vote on the actual project until sometime in the future.
Recor said that the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization will announce the recipients of the surtax money on June 1, so it was important for Pompano Beach to submit its request now.
City Manager Greg Harrison said that “we can get down in the weeds” when a design firm is chosen. “This is for the [surtax] application.”
As for resident complaints that the city’s Atlantic and Dixie lane elimination project causing traffic problems, in previous meetings some elected officials agreed with residents that the first stage of the project resulted in unacceptable traffic times. But they point to improvements since then and say conditions will keep improving.
City may operate its own call center
The failure of operators at the regional 911 call center to respond to an emergency call in April from a caller in Deerfield Beach, an incident in which a baby died, has prompted Pompano Beach officials to look into operating their own call center. The regional center is operated by the Broward Sherriff’s Office [BSO].
The issue began at the April 26 commission meeting when resident Vicente Thrower asked Mayor Rex Hardin how Pompano Beach could be pro-active and make sure that the same failure doesn’t occur here.
“If that had been one of our loved ones whose child had died, this city hall would have been lit up with a whole bunch of people right now,” said Thrower. Hardin responded that “of course” 911 calls should be handled properly. “But it’s operated by BSO.” Thrower asked again. “What is our response?”
Hardin responded, “I can’t answer that.”
At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Tom McMahon made a motion that the city look into operating its own 911 call center in its Public Safety Complex.
“I was against joining the call center many years ago,” said McMahon. “This is such a top priority in our city.”
McMahon’s motion was unanimously supported. He said 120,000 calls per year originate from within the city. He asked for a full report on what the cost would be. “I know we pay into the [regional] call center,” he said.
City Manager Greg Harrison said his office is already looking into the issue.
Dunkin’ Donuts no longer coming to Oceanside, says resident
In last week’s New Pelican, it was reported that a Dunkin’ Donuts might open at the Plaza at Oceanside, a mixed-use development at Atlantic Boulevard and A1A. Now, says resident David Sacks, the company appears to have pulled out.
Sacks and some other residents were concerned that the Dunkin’ Donuts might have some negative impacts on the property.