Promenade News Commentary

Florida has long been a fragmented state. But almost anywhere you went
you found a sense of community. That feeling is harder to find.
Fort Lauderdale epitomizes the trend. Enclaves and gated communities,
high rises and massive structures have taken over. Even neighborhoods are
divided, often literally, especially in the downtown business and
entertainment districts.

The vision for the city is clearly to build up as much as possible and tear
down what stands in the way. Proponents have their arguments crafted. It is
good for the community, growth is necessary and we will have a walkable
downtown. Sounds good but it isn’t happening that way. And downtown Fort
Lauderdale was very walkable already.

Downtown areas and businesses seem to be taking the lazy way to
economic growth. Rather than better service or innovation they find
different approaches to make money. Open a bar, push for late night hours
and relaxed enforcement on entertainment. More cars? Build more roads or
channel the bumper to bumper traffic through certain areas, including
residential neighborhoods.

There is little will to enforce the law. Speeding, running stop signs, loud
noise emanating from entertainment venues, “party houses” and littering
pretty much goes on unchecked.

At the heart of it seems to be that most of us just care about our own
needs. Want a better view? Chop down a one hundred year old oak tree.
Desire a four thousand square foot house, simply clear the land.
We have our local parks and there are zoning restrictions on development
in some areas, but make no mistake, these areas are long range targets.
There is a certain malaise that takes over. Citizens get worn down or move
away when the frustration level exceeds the ability to cope.
Part of it can be chalked up to an aging population having to give way to a
new generation. But if the coming generation only cares about itself, It will
create a community that will push them to move when they start having
families of their own.

Is it already too late? City leaders and planners still have some time, but
not much. There has to be a will to change the pattern. Rarely do you hear
the word “pride in community” associated with Fort Lauderdale. Do you love
your city? Do you want it to grow naturally to meet the needs of citizens who
have made it their home? Is the standard of progress tied to growth or to
quality of life?
It will take a will to change the current course, but it can be done.

Ray Brasted – Publisher