You Really Had To Be There

On Jan.29,2018 I attended the WPB City Commission meeting because of an e-mail I received concerning “Flagler Shores” and it rang a bell with me due to an article I had read the previous day in the PB Post. The story written by Alexandra Clough “Foes of Flagler Shore rally opposition.” was well written and informative.

When I approached the room outside the City Commission Chambers I encounter 10-15 people and everyone confused about the procedure to be allowed to voice their opinion on the city’s Flagler Shores experiment. I was asked if I was for or against the project, and my honest answer was I didn’t know enough about it to be for or against. Second question was did I know how to fill out the card? Pointing to the comment card I explained they were to sign their name here, and place the item no. here. Third question what was the item No? I picked up the agenda which contained 21 items and started reading. Arrived at #21 and thought hell I missed it, and started looking again, when the City Clerk came by and I asked her what the item # was. She replied Flagler Shores was not on the agenda. By now there are 20-25 folks waiting for answer’s when they heard the clerks response, they looked at me and I said it wasn’t on the agenda so the commissioners would not discuss it tonight. Do you have any idea how loud 25 people can groan in disappointment?

Now I’m thinking what was the e-mail I received concerning the project if it wasn’t on the agenda. At that point God slapped me on the back of my head, and whispered “General Comment” People started to leave when I said they all had 3 minutes to comment on any issue not on the agenda. The folks that had ripped up their cards thinking they wouldn’t be heard grabbed new cards and started over and people just kept coming.

Mayor Muoio made a point of reading the Civility & Decorum statement which in part reads “Unauthorized remarks from the audience, stamping of the feet, whistles, yells and similar demonstrations are strictly prohibited.” (I assume this also includes clapping)

The mayor recognized they were there to discuss Flagler Shores and wondered out loud why, when it wasn’t on the agenda. Well guess what happened? A hand full of people all at once attempted to answer her question. That’s when my giggles started. They stopped when the mayor pointed at them and asked if they wanted to be removed from the room.
She told the group the road would be reopened on 3/1/18 and they would have their 4 lanes back. Audience clapped, and the mayor thanked them. She also said the city intended to “Redesign” Flagler and after the road was reopened the engineers would come in and start the planning process, and the city will decide if it will be made permanent. The Boat Show and Sunfest will be the first to let the city know their needs. A meeting would be scheduled and residences input would be welcome. The audience claps, and the mayor thanked them again and I’m thinking Boat Show & Sunfest, aren’t they businesses? Think about it, needs of business vs. residents. Oh Oh.

Mayor Muoio had the cards in front of her and she said when I call your name please step up to the podium. People started walking to the podium and she repeated “when I call your name”
I had the impression many of the residents have never attended a city meeting and were confused about the procedure and the mayor may have shown a little more patience with them, but honestly it was funny. Roberts Rule of Order went out the window.

I listened to a few speakers who were very professional, spent their time wisely and when they said something profound the audience started clapping, the clock kept running and they lost valuable speaking time. Mayor Muoio brought this to their attention, but it did continue.
One speaker brought with her a petition signed by 650 residents living along Flagler, who are opposed to the road closing and redesign.

By the time I left the meeting I had an understanding of the problem and residents complaints and decided to drive down Flagler and see for myself.
Flagler Drive is a 4 lane road running North & South with a medium strip in between The city has closed a section of Flagler eliminating 2 driving lanes on the east, and made two way traffic on the west side.
It appears the city wants to permanently remove the two eastern lanes and sidewalk and grass it in.
While I was driving I saw people on the sidewalk walking dogs, people strolling or sitting on the seawall looking at the water, and many, many barriers stopping people from driving by.

Mayor Muoio wants more people in the downtown area to do more walking and bike riding, and leave their cars at home to help with the traffic problems. There seems to be more cars than road, and the city helped create the problem allowing developers to build 20 & 30 story condo’s and office buildings along the waterfront.
The day Ford introduced the Model T Americans have had love affairs with their cars and trucks and will not give them up–ever.
This is going to be another battle between residents, businesses and city government. I told the residents if they lost the battle they could still have the last word. I told the woman that arrived at city hall with 650 names on the petition to march them and others down to the polling booth and vote their commissioner out of office. Time will tell.