Wednesday, November 23, 2011

City of Deerfield Beach Commissioner on Pedestrian Safety: "At Some Time in the Future the City May Take On That Project." When after a District 2 resident pedestrian or bicyclist is killed...

Recently, in blog post entitled “City of Deerfield Beach: What's Going On?????”, which can be read here, I detailed a situation of pressing concern to many people in District 2.  A concern regarding pedestrian and motorist safety at the intersection of Hillsboro Blvd. and Martin Luther King that I had previously notified our City Commissioner, Ben Preston, as well as our City Commissioners and Mayor about at the October 18, 2011 City Commission meeting, as well as via email.


My Commissioner, Ben Preston, agreed to look into the situation, but from his initial comments I had already had the feeling that they (Deerfield Beach City Commission) was uninterested in really pursuing this project.  However, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited for a response.


Almost one month later (November 17, 2011) I had finally received a response from Commissioner Preston.  I do think that it is funny that I had submitted three emails prior requesting an update and I had gotten no response, but as soon as I submitted an email (November 16, 2011) calling into question the Commissioners priorities because of actions and statements he made, I received my response one day later along with other information that apparently, City Manager, Burgess Hanson wanted me to know regarding the City`s position and justification on why they broke their own rules regarding the Memorial Committee and the memorialization of street names process, but that really was unrelated to this story at hand.


Anyway, so in the initial response from Commissioner Preston on November 17, 2011 he provided me with the crash analysis data for Hillsboro and MLK, which indicated that there had been no pedestrian involved accidents at that intersection reported, yet. (THANK GOD!!!)


Please note: The data he provided does not indicate if the analysis is for this month, November, this year or all time. It doesn’t even indicate what entity provided the info, whether DOT or BSO.


So, I promptly responded to Commissioner Preston and asked directly, “So what does that mean in regard to the City requesting the “yellow pavers” for the crosswalk?”.

In my response I pointedly asked him if he was going to fight for the pedestrian safety of his constituents and Deerfield Beach residents and visitors that traverse that intersection.  I further advised him that Hillsboro and MLK, unlike Hillsboro and Federal, does not have street lights illuminating the crosswalk or potential pedestrian or bicyclist crossing it.  I also pointed out that since the City Manager is always suggesting the re-scheduling of CDBG funds from Home rehab and community outreach programs for any project involving District 2, which ultimately robs the moderate and low-income individuals those funds were intended for to make needed improvements to their home and/or needed programs for those individuals to better their lives. (please note the City has already re-scheduled over $250,000.00 in funds from those programs and has yet to allow any person to apply for the funds for their initial intended purpose.)  Just so the City can utilize the actual collected tax revenue and other City funding sources to give out hefty raises to Management staff and build unnecessary parks in other sections of the City, should not be a consideration.

So after not hearing from him, I sent another reminder email on November 21, 2011 to which he responded reminding me that he is busy and thanking me for taking his schedule into consideration.  He then went on to say that “safety is always important”.  He then advised me that the yellow mats we discussed would cost $2,000.00 per project per location and that DOT (FL Department of Transportation) would not take on this project.  He then stated that the City may one day take on the project.  He then went on to “school me” on the purpose of the mats stating that they are for the blind to feel a different surface at the intersection.

Me not being one to trust the information of someone else, especially a local politician from a local government that has had so many cases of corruption and mismanagement, was prompted by that email to do a little research of my own. So, I went straight to Google and I found out that the yellow pavers in question are really called “detectable warning surfaces” (DWS) or truncated domes and are a required measure by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) to be installed at all public right-of-ways.  Now, understand that with the laws and regulations because I know they change all the time, so it is possible that when the curb was installed these DWS’s may not have been a requirement, so I looked further and contacted the FDOT District 4 which has jurisdiction over Deerfield Beach and spoke with Barbara Kelleher, Public Information Director FDOT District 4, and her staff put me in touch with Thomas Reynolds, Maintenance Supervisor FDOT-D4.  After speaking with Mr. Reynolds and advising him of the current condition of that public right-of-way he indicated that FDOT would look into it.  So, as of the time of this post, I have not heard back from FDOT.  Granted it is the day before Thanksgiving and they have only been aware, as far as I know, since yesterday so we can wait until after the holidays to see what the outcome will be.

Whatever it is I just hope all concerned do what is right!  It may not be required, but it is only right to provide a more safe crossing intersection at Hillsboro Blvd. and MLK than what is currently there.  No street lights and a degraded and gray truncated dome system, which does really does nothing to provide for the safety of the pedestrians or bicyclist of any ability at the intersection. 

Let’s be proactive and fix it now before we are fixing it after a life is taken. 

City of Deerfield Beach Commissioners, will it be worth the cost then????

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