Hope you’re staying cool this summer, this issue will answer some of the questions that we have heard recently in the community. As many of you know the Commission is on recess until August 11th but that doesn’t mean that our offices are closed. Please be sure to call me at 954-357-7006 or email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, issues or great ideas that you wish to bring to my attention.
What is happening with the Library Hours at the County Libraries?
Good news, under current proposals, 23 of our 37 libraries should be expanding their hours in the next budget year.
The Pembroke Pines Branch/Walter C. Young Resource Center will be open on Saturdays from 10 AM – 6 PM. This is a positive development. The Broward County Library had to endure many years of budget cuts during the recession, and now we are finally starting to see new money come back into this vital system. I will continue to push for a full restoration of weekend hours at all of our libraries, as well as adequate funding to staff all of our locations. However, it may be a while before our library system has pre-recession levels of funding again.
I read that you brought a motion to the County Commission against “Fracking,” what does that mean?
At the June 23rd meeting of the County Commission, I sponsored a resolution opposing the use of Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, in the State of Florida. Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, is a technique developed by oil and gas companies that uses a combination of water and strong chemicals to drill deep wells to reach deposits of oil and natural gas miles below the surface. Unlike traditional drilling techniques, Fracking breaks up layers of earth near and below our underground water supplies. In areas across the United States where fracking use has been widespread, there have been alarming reports of dangerous contaminants found in residents’ drinking water.
What’s more, there have been permits pulled for oil exploration in the Sunniland Trend. The Sunniland Trend straddles the border of Collier County and Broward County - smack in the middle of the Everglades. To me, this just doesn’t make sense. Fracking anywhere in the state of Florida poses such huge risks to our entire water supply that I wanted to make sure that Broward County went on record calling for a statewide ban. I am happy to report that my motion passed with the unanimous support of my colleagues on the dais.
Now, I am working with County Staff to explore the possibility of bringing forward an ordinance to ban fracking within Broward County’s borders.
Is it true that Broward County is going to stop arresting people for possession of Marijuana?
On June 23rd I co-sponsored a motion introduced by Vice Mayor Marty Kiar directing the County Attorney to draft an ordinance granting law enforcement the option to issue a
civil citation to anyone found in possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana. While the Commission is on recess, the County Attorney will write a draft ordinance with possible amendments for the Commission to consider in the fall. In the meantime, our neighbors to the South in Miami-Dade County signed a similar ordinance into law on Tuesday June 30th. The Miami-Dade Ordinance gives law enforcement the option to issue a $100 fine.
I think this idea has a lot of merit. It costs the County and the State thousands of dollars to process a single arrest. What’s more, an arrest record can ruin a young person’s life, keeping them from being considered for jobs, higher education, housing, financial aid and more.
It is time for our community to explore new options for law enforcement that can both save dollars and make sense. I believe that civil citation for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a better way, and I will keep you informed as the discussion at the County level continues to progress.
What is happening with the Port Everglades Deepening and Widening Project?
Broward County's Port Everglades received a signed Chief of Engineers Report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that clears the way for the Port to begin the next phase of deepening and widening its channels, and allows the project to be included in federal legislation expected in 2016 that will authorize similar water and navigation-related projects.
The project is designed to enable safe passage of deep draft Post-Panamax cargo ships, which are too large to fit through today's Panama Canal. Port Everglades already handles Post-Panamax ships from Europe and South America, but the ships must be lightly loaded, which is inefficient, especially as older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships and the Panama Canal is being expanded.
A key environmental component of the approved plan includes planting approximately 103,000 new nursery-raised corals in 18 acres of existing reef areas, and relocating approximately 11,500 existing corals to create 2 acres of artificial reef, and create 3 acres of artificial reef habitat for natural recruitment which will replace nearly 15 acres of existing hard-bottom reef habitat. At Broward County's recommendation, the Corps and the National Marine Fisheries Services developed a "blended" plan that includes traditional and more innovative approaches to environmental mitigation.
"The natural underwater environment is a priority for Port Everglades. It is critical to the Port that the mitigation plan includes progressive approaches coupled with those that have a proven track record for replenishing and enhancing sensitive reef habitat," said Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak. "I want to credit the Corps, the National Marine Fisheries Service and a multitude of environmental organizations for going back to the drawing board several times to develop an innovative approach to reef mitigation that will put Broward County in the forefront of environmental research and development."
In addition, the mitigation plan includes restoring seagrasses and mangroves in West Lake Park, and building environmentally friendly bulkheads throughout the Southport Access Channel. These pioneering attributes have significantly reduced the project's environmental impact from what was originally planned nearly 20 years ago.
The project is anticipated to create an estimated 4,700 total construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally from the additional cargo capacity. The estimated cost is $374 million which will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations and state grants. No local property taxes will be used for this project because Port Everglades is a self-funded enterprise of Broward County.
Is Uber really leaving Broward County?
On July 10th I was invited to WLRN’s program The Florida Roundup, to discuss the developments with Uber in Broward County. You can listen to the whole program here.
The Uber segment begins at 22:37.
Would You Want to Participate in a Focus Group on Climate Change?
When are Expanded Hours coming to West Lake Park?
In the County’s recent Budget Workshop, I was pleased to see that Parks and Recreation took my suggestion to have West Lake Park expand its hours. According to the current proposal, West Lake Park will be open 7 days a week in the next budget year, which is a boon to both residents and tourists who like to Kayak.
West Lake Park can be accessed from both the north and south sides of Sheridan Street (west of the Intracoastal bridge) and from the Intracoastal Waterway. On the north side you'll find the Anne Kolb Nature Center, which has its own
Web page. An admission fee of $1.50 per person (ages 5 and under free) is in effect on the south side on weekends and County holidays when the park is open. There is no entry fee at Anne Kolb, but there is a $2 fee (plus sales tax) to visit the nature center’s exhibit hall. Both West Lake and Anne Kolb are part of the
Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
For now, the marina offers rentals - kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards - Thursday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 PM with the last boat departing the marina at 3:50 PM - weather permitting. The marina is also open all County holidays except the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The park's regular gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) is in effect on weekends and holidays.
By December 2015, the marina will be open 7 days a week.
Rentals are $14 per hour, $24 for two hours, and $30 for four hours. Rentals include boat or stand-up paddleboard, paddles, and U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. For ages 13 to 17, a parent/guardian signature is required to go out on the lake alone. For ages 12 and under, an adult must be on the boat with them. No infants or toddlers on tours or in classes. For those who wish to launch their own kayaks/canoes/stand-up paddleboard, the marina's boat ramp is open during regular park hours, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. No motorized boats are allowed in the lake or at this ramp.
To register, go online or visit the Anne Kolb Nature Center office (751 Sheridan St., Hollywood, 954-357-5161, ext. 0) The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. For additional information, call the West Lake marina supervisor at 954-357-5122.
Are New Community Bus Lines Coming to Hollywood and Hallandale Beach?
Starting July 5, Community Bus Route 4 in Hallandale Beach is now funded in partnership with Broward County Transit (BCT) for $55,000 annually. Customers ride for free.
Additionally, Community Bus routes in Hollywood, the Downtown/Beach- North and the Downtown/Beach-South, starting on October 1, will also be funded in partnership with BCT at $102,000 annually. Customers pay $1 per ride.
BCT also has many routes running through District 6, including buses that connect to the above community buses. Those routes are: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, and 18, the US1 Breeze, 441 Breeze and University Breeze.
If you need help planning a trip, pricing on BCT or need more information on any of these services, please call 954-357-8400 or visit Broward.org/BCT.
Our district office is conveniently located in the lobby of the Hollywood Branch of the Broward County Public Library at 2600 Hollywood Blvd, next to Hollywood City Hall. This office is open for your convenience Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you would like to schedule an appointment, or you have a great idea, suggestion or an issue that needs my attention feel free to call me at 954-357-7006 or send me an email at
Lastly, I hope you will plan to participate in a
National Night Out Against Crime event in your community on Tuesday, August 4th. Contact your neighborhood’s Homeowner or Civic Association as to where their event is being held.