WEST PARK, Fla. – Broward County commissioners argued Tuesday that it's time to move forward with plans to build a radio tower that would upgrade the Sheriff's Office's communication systems, but residents near the planned site are still pushing for an alternative.
"It's time that we move this thing forward and get this done," said Commissioner Michael Udine, who represents Parkland, Coral Springs and Tamarac.
Officials said the tower is needed to fix problems with the county's radio system, which broke down during high-profile events, including the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting in 2017 and last year's Parkland school shooting.
Many commissioners favor a plan that would erect a communication tower in West Lake Park.
"The quickest way, and the best way, is to go with West Lake Park," said Commissioner Nan Rich, who represents western Broward County, including Davie, Plantation and Weston.
West Lake Village residents fear the tower will be unsightly and say the county could attach the equipment to a tall building, such as the Circ Hotel in Hollywood.
"It's frustrating, as a county resident, to feel that our voices aren't being heard," Lisa Stingone Turner said.
Telecommunication specialist Alex Gil told the commissioners that he doesn't see any reason why the Circ Hotel could not be used instead of the park.
"There's a lot of new technologies out there that permit you to deploy the systems inside the building, and you could do so without having to have such extensive modifications in comparison to building towers," Gil said.
On Tuesday, some commissioners called the Circ Hotel option a "plan B" citing a study from a consultant hired by the county that says the Circ building would be expensive and generally less feasible than West Lake Park for the tower.
"While it can work there, it is possible, but it's not the optimal solution. It's too expensive, and it's going to take too long," Udine said.
Since Tuesday’s commission resolution passed, there will be a meeting on May 7 to discuss lifting any restrictions on construction of the tower in West Lake Park. Commissioners said that doesn’t mean the Circ Hotel location is completely off the table.
"Again, it's time to move to get this job done," Vice Mayor Dale Holmes said.