What’s Your Vision Of Fort Lauderdale?

     What’s  your Vision? 

     You might soon be asked that question by the brand new Fort Lauderdale City Commission.
 
     You see, this year is a special year for our City. We will finally elect a new City Commission with at least a majority of new faces, due to the first ever Term Limit law.
    
                                                                           
      Also, our 100th birthday is just around the corner (in 2011). That makes the timing just right to regroup, and/or reaffirm our Plans for the Future of Fort Lauderdale
.A great time to figure out just what we want to be when we grow up.

  
   Plus, the idea of holding that big meeting of Citizens to talk about the future of the City is being pushed by at least two different groups. The “Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations ” ( a collection of the City’s neighborhoods)  and, an “Ad Hoc” committee, made up primarily of former Mayors/Commissioners and Business leaders, and led by former Mayor Rob Dressler,  have been meeting for months to formulate proposals to do just that.

     These kind of questions could be discussed at such a meeting (but there are hundreds of others). Note: [ In 1994, a few hundred Citizens created a  Visioning Document called New Century – New City. It could be helpful to see what great ideas surfaced then, and if they were ever implemented.] ….. We’re talking about these kinds of issues, below;

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Should there be more to do at the beach… Should there be a Pier, an Amphitheater, more events,  a new Swimming Facility, different zoning to stop more Condos, or Hotels, or big buildings? And if so …. , why, what, where, and when?…. Maybe even how and who. 

                                                   
                                                             Las Olas at A1A
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How much responsibility do we all have as a City to get the North West and other rough parts of the City on the mend? ….At What Cost?. …To Who? … and How?

                                                                           
                                                             
                  
                                                                blighted neighborhoods
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What to do with Lockhart Stadium, the Airports and Ports, the City Government… Should there be more Community Policing, is the Downtown moving in the right direction?  You get the picture. 

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     Sure, lofty questions, but important questions…… and the timing couldn’t be better. And we have the brain power in this community to do it.

     So, to get to the point of this blog posting, I’ve been asked by the Dressler group for My Vision of how I think our Visioning session should be conducted, as I’ve said that I think their current proposal needs tweaking (Dressler’s plan takes 6 months and costs the City budget $100,000 !)  I have another idea! … First,  I think this process should cost the City nothing but in-kind help……….  It shouldn’t be hard to get enough private donations to accomplish this as a grassroots week-end.  How about something like this;    

     We ask our new, (hopefully fearless) leaders to pick one hundred or two hundred leading Citizens, including them,  to commit to a weekend in early June. They all convene on a Saturday morning at 9 am at a location like Holiday Park, or the Executive Airport, or the Peele Dixie Water plant!

                                                                                      
               
                                            

                                                         
                                                         citizens’ meeting outside
  
      A professional “facilitating firm” leads a targeted discussion over coffee and donuts and bagels (donated by area businesses). The group then breaks down in about four or five groups and further discusses the five issues picked for the day. Notes are taken, themes are identified! 
   
      At noon, they all board four TMA’s Sun Trolleys and head to the second location. They take their brown bag lunch they brought with them from home and sit on blankets at George English, or Stranahan, or the Galt  (or use the War Memorial in case of rain) and listen to some experts talk (while the attendees eat) about things like – how to encourage Community Shopping Districts, or the state of the City’s Water, Wastewater, and Buildings, or the future workforce, or what economic opportunities the City might have.

     Break -out group discussions continue for the afternoon with topics ranging from “how the City should involve themselves with the City’s schools“, to ” how we could control the homeless issues better” , to ” should we bring back the Air and Sea Show, or Cydeco,or Octoberfest!” 

     About 4pm, it’s back on the bus and off to the Ocean at Las Olas, or South Beach, to finish the day with a beach bonfire, hot dog/hamburger, open microphone, a toes in the sand or surf  kind of Mega Citizen Advisory Board meeting  ……… where an overview of the days work, and the issues for the following day (voting day) are boiled down and agreed upon.

     Sunday, 2 pm, everyone meets at the donated Riverside Hotel Ballroom, or the Convention Center, or the Broward Center, where they snack on donated goodies and share in open discussion and then forge consensus on an updated document …….One Fort Lauderdale, … a Plan for Fort Lauderdale’s Future……. it’s been a long weekend. but a good start.

    ………. from there, the hard work begins!

     Note: Please comment on this process, and if you’d like to be involved, you can send me a private e-mail to Tim@TimSmith.com