A Street Car named “Controversy”

              Who don’t like a Street Car ?

Well, that depends on where it’s going! 

     The Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, a Board appointed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, made up of property owners in the Downtown, unveiled the latest version of a plan for a Downtown Street Car system at a Special City Commision meeting held this past Tuesday. The plan, years in the making, has drawn substantial support among many.

     But, as usual, the devil was in the details! 

    The meeting, requested by the DDA through their Chair, JacK Loos, a longtime developer and kingmaker, started the meeting by standing from his seat and telling the Mayor and the Commissioners that they had come for a decision. And the decision included money.

     The plan calls for a Street Car system similar to the one in Portland Oregon . It runs by overhead electric wires, is able to cross a bridge, and is paid for, substantially, by the Downtown property owners. The assessment will run unit owners in the Downtown $99. a year, and commercial property owners from 5 cent to 12 cent a square foot of commercial space. But the plan’s financial plan calls for a Fort Lauderdale City monetary contribution – and there comes the rub!

     The routes, chosen by the DDA, with assistance from a nationally recognized transit consultant, left out too much of the City’s downtown, according to some. Tim Smith (that’s me) attended the meeting with the intention of supporting the Street Car plan, but was surprised that the system stopped abruptly at NE 6 St. on the north side, yet went all the way to SE 17th Street on the south side. Smith argued that if the route didn’t go all the way to Sunrise Boulevard, or at least Searstown, it would miss the opportunity to provide a link to the 25,000 people that live in the neighborhoods north of Sunrise Boulevard. Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, who represents the District, agreed, and pushed for the northern extension.

     Also, Commissioner Carlton Moore, who represents the NW section of City, told the Downtowners that they could forget his support if they didn’t bring the Street car to his district through an attachment up Sistrunk Boulevard.

     The Authority asked for a postponement, after Mayor Naugle seemed to agree with Moore and Rodstrom. Another meeting is scheduled for 30 days, when many hope a new plan will include those additional areas.

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