HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A 32-story emergency radio tower became pretty much a done deal on Feb. 3, but it didn’t bubble up into the public consciousness until late in February when the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission mentioned it at its meeting.
West Lake Park will undoubtedly become the place for a new 32-story tower, the 16th and final new emergency radio tower or Broward County.
Neighbors in the thick of the fight knew it was brewing, but many didn’t find out until Wednesday that the deal was fairly cemented.
“It’s a park, it should be preserved as a park,” local resident Lisa Stingone said. “My concern is for other development. Once it is done, it’ll set a precedent for other development in this park.”
The fight over the proposed 32-story tower stems from its need. Broward’s old and inadequate emergency radio system failed the first responders during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The county’s brand new 15-tower system went live in December without east Hollywood covered.
“There are still gaps when you get down into the southeast corner especially along the beach in Hollywood and Hallandale where there is weak coverage,” George Keller, Hollywood Deputy City Manager, said. “That’s some of the problems we still have now have with the old system and you can’t afford those things,” he said.
The city of Hollywood explored several other sites, though found that all were less suitable. Broward County owns West Lake Park, a gift from the landowner with strings attached.
Resident Walter Collins said: “The family that deeded the land, they never wanted anything built there. They wanted it to be for recreation and environmental purposes.”
To get around the deed restrictions on the 911 tower, the county may have to arrange a land swap.
“The county and their own attorneys have indicated they do believe they do have to make a swap happen,” Keller said.
Details of the land swap are still to be announced. The neighbors have not ruled out legal action to keep trying to stop West Lake from becoming the new location for Broward’s new tower.
However, it does appear that the city and county have made this a priority and it is fast tracked. It could be up and functioning by this summer.