[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Suburban "Warfare" in Broward County

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Suburban "Warfare" in Broward County

Now for some news of local interest, courtesy of the Herald:



So much for love thy neighbor.

In the latest road spat between Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, the town has given permission for a couple to close off Hancock Road in front of their house every Sunday this summer for an old-fashioned block party complete with watermelon and roasted wieners.

Here's why: That will force more than 1,000 churchgoers at Abundant Living Ministries to use other roads to get to get to the church, which is in Pembroke Pines on the Southwest Ranches border.

Homeowners in Southwest Ranches say they are tired of the church traffic interfering with their rural lifestyle (Ed. if you want a rural lifestyle, don't except to find it in South Florida).

Horseback riders now avoid the road on Sundays, said Rachel Greene, who has lived at Hancock Road and Mustang Trail since 1974.

''I can't get out of my driveway,'' said Greene, who owns a tree nursery with her husband Bill. ``Children are afraid to get out in the street and play.''

Church officials say they just want to use public roads to get to their building, while Pines officials say this is another attempt by Ranches to close off public streets in an effort to cut themselves off from their bigger neighbor.

''There would be bedlam if cities just decided, as this city has, for no reason, or next to no good reason, to close roads on one another,'' City Commissioner Angelo Castillo said. ``It sounds like they want public dollars for their roads but don't want to share the roads with the public.''

Last year, officials from the church, Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines talked about a possible solution: building a bridge directly from the church to Sheridan Street so churchgoers wouldn't have to wind through Ranches. But they have been squabbling about who should pay for the $200,000 project.

In an effort to speed up negotiations, Ranches residents decided to close the road on Sundays.

The town gave the Greenes the go-ahead last week to close 300 feet of Hancock between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every Sunday. They started this past weekend through September.

''They wanted relief from traffic and speeding on their street,'' Ranches Councilman Donald Maines said. ``Move it to another street for awhile.''

The Greenes paid $383 for liability insurance -- a cost they will have to pay every couple of weeks -- and are collecting donations to help foot the bill. The Sunshine Ranches Homeowners Association executive board will likely agree to chip in some money.

This past weekend, residents used RVs and orange cones to block off the road. Neighbors enjoyed doughnuts, baked beans and grilled burgers at a ''good old-fashioned countrified block party,'' said Susan Winn, homeowner association president.

Churchgoers can still get to Abundant Living Ministries. Rather than take the most direct route, they now have to loop around.

''It's just an inconvenience,'' said Rev. Ken Albin of Abundant Living Ministries. ``It's just harassment. Our people are going to find a way to go to church.''

Church members say they want to be good neighbors but they think they should be able to use public roads.

''Is a public road only designated to be used for certain people in certain homes or is it to be used by all people?'' asked Butch Stark, church member and Ranches resident. ``I understand remaining rural but I also don't believe you should start shutting down roads and make it harder for everybody in other communities. We are not an island unto ourselves.''

For the Sun-Sentinel's take, click here.

I found this story absolutely ridiculous and a prime example of how selfish people can be. Southwest Ranches city officials are the villians in this story.
1) they can't agree with their neighboring city Pembroke Pines to build a bridge that would ease the traffic to the church, and
2) they encourage and support the blocking off of a public right of way.

The residents who are throwing the "block party" aren't blame-free either.

Although I find myself doing a lot of "cheerleading" for South Florida, this is one case where I have to admit we have a problem. Too many of us here want to wall ourselves off from other people and communities, mainly because of a perception of superiority. Anyone who has been to this part of South Florida can attest that this is NOT a rural area. Sure there may be ranches with horses and such in Southwest Ranches, but is it embedded in the rapidly sprawling 'burbs of Broward County, and as such should work with the surrounding communities to arrive at a reasonable solution, not wall themselves off from the rest of the area.

Yeah I know, I'm too much of an idealist.


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