City of Plantation Podcast

Episode 11 - Reopening the City (partially) with Mayor Stoner, Police Chief Harrison, and Director Goodrich

May 23, 2020 City of Plantation Episode 11
City of Plantation Podcast
Episode 11 - Reopening the City (partially) with Mayor Stoner, Police Chief Harrison, and Director Goodrich
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the City of Plantation Podcast. In this episode we speak with our very own Mayor Stoner, Police Chief Harrison, and Director Phil Goodrich about the partial reopening of the City. Although there are certain restrictions, the City of Plantation is supporting local businesses as they partially reopen, ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for our residents. This Podcast is aimed at keeping the residents of Plantation informed regarding how the City and its various Departments are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please subscribe to this podcast, as we will be producing new episodes on a regular basis.

Guests: Mayor Lynn Stoner, Police Chief Harrison, and Director Goodrich
Hosts: EMS Division Chief (Acting) Ezra Lubow
Produced by: Ezra Lubow
Music: Oakwood Station - Summer Breeze Memories
Cover Art: The City of Plantation

Speaker 1:

Hello plantation. Welcome to the city of plantations podcast. I'm dr Jay formerly with plantation information radio. Thank you for tuning in. We hope the information provided within the episodes of this podcast helped keep you, your family and your friends safe. During this pandemic

Speaker 2:

last week, Broward County issued an executive order allowing for phase one reopening of the County. Shortly thereafter, our city administration also issued an order supporting the county's orders and easing restrictions on local businesses in an effort to help them get back on their feet. In this episode, we'll discuss those orders, some of the important changes happening in this city and how the city plans on enforcing those rules. We are pleased to once again be joined bar mayor Lyn stoner police chief Howard Harrison and parks and rec director Phil Goodrich. Welcome everyone. Thank you . Thank you. So certainly one of the biggest components of the reopening is getting the business community back on its feet. A large portion of the County order along with the governor's prior order for the rest of the state, focuses on the business community. The city has made a solid commitment to supporting this reopening. What are some of the things the city is doing to help our businesses with their reopening efforts? Mayor stoner,

Speaker 3:

one of the things is we are allowing signage to be a little more lax. Um, they call them snipe signs out and about banners promoting that people are, are open for business. We've relaxed the outside seating rule, you know, just trying to , uh, assist, you know, the chamber of commerce has done a superb effort and you'll see signs throughout the city, you know , uh, support our small businesses. And , uh , it's interesting, they're not big on the , um, the phrase new normal. They want to say back to business. So , um, I think , um, today's only Friday this, so we've only seen four days, but in four days I've seen , um, a lot of businesses just so beyond excited to come back to the table, so to speak and um, and be able to get out there. So we're, we're behind him where we're absolutely are huge piece of our city and, and what we do and, and we've got to try to , um , relax the rules that we can. Um, that seemed to make sense for the community. So w you know, there's lots of more stuff behind the scenes, but that's, that's putting it in a very simple form.

Speaker 2:

Right. So along with the business community reopening, we're seeing an effort to reopen some of the recreational facilities in and around the city director Goodrich. The city had already opened up some of our parks for passive views . But what else are we moving forward with at this time?

Speaker 4:

Yes, well we've started open some of our parks. Uh, we've opened up , uh , different phases and different facilities based on the needs and the methods that we can do it in a safe and effective manner. In working with the police and working with the community, we want to try and provide as many opportunities to get people back to filling their recreational needs , um, and they go across the city. So we do have some challenges with our manpower to make sure that we can monitor it and make sure that things are done in a correct manner. Um, but we will continue to do that on a week to week basis. Obviously we have the Memorial day weekend, we normally would have a celebration over at veterans park , uh, celebrating that , uh , this year we're going to have to do that virtually. So it's, it's a changing environment and , uh , to say not , it's not only the pool, it's fluid. Every rule that we make is fluid at this point.

Speaker 2:

Right? And as we've already seen, not just here, but in other places throughout the County , uh , there have been some issues with reopenings and mostly those are people not adhering to the rules. Uh, and in fact we had to close a couple parks recently, didn't we be because of that?

Speaker 4:

Yes, we did. Uh, unfortunately, you know, we can put signs, we can post signs, we can post rules, we can have all of those things in place and not everybody adheres to them. Um, and we did have a situation , uh , with the police department, fortunately came out and helped us. We did have to shut down a park and kind of take a step backwards. Our goal is to always be moving forward. Right ? And that's that , uh , process of, you know, little steps at a time, moving in a direction to get back to full compliance and , and hopefully someday we're back to what was normal. We know that we're not there yet and there's going to be a few steps along the way. So that's what our efforts are and that's where our direction is. And that's what forces us to have to reevaluate how we do this and make sure that we have manpower in place to make sure that we're being safe because we don't want to open up something and it not be safe. That's the goal and the most important thing.

Speaker 2:

And I think one of the things we've discussed consistently is because no one was prepared for this and none of us have really ever experienced anything of this type, some of the operations moving forward or a little bit of trial and error, right.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. That I think that we'd be doing food distributions and , uh , graduation ceremonies and things of that nature. No, I didn't. But you know, we're going to , we're putting our efforts into making sure that we can put together something that works for safety of the community as well as every group that we're trying to satisfy within the city.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's awesome. So , uh, chief Harrison, as we discussed last time you were here with us. The city is taken a position of , uh , educating and mentoring the community about adhering to the orders and , and not necessarily going out there trying to aggravate an already sensitive situation. So with so many variables and so many factors involved now , uh , do you see that changing?

Speaker 5:

I hope it's not changing, but it's very difficult to stay up with the executive orders. Uh, as you know, the governor sets an executive order in motion. The County has the opportunity to be more restrictive. And then of course the mayor can be more restrictive of that, right? They can't be more lenient. So the County can't be lenient. The mayor can't be more, but they can't be more restrictive. And just recently we had a business that , uh, was reading the governor's executive order, didn't see the counties executive order or the mayors. And again, once we found out that the , uh, the business was open and of course we're getting calls on it, we responded out there and through education and, and showing the business their error, they shut down immediately. Right. So, you know, we're getting more of that where when all these executive orders keep changing and , uh, you know, in the, in the, the governor has one set of rules, the County and then the city. It does get confusing. Sure. So , uh, as it stands right now, we've done a good job. The, and again, the residents, the businesses, the community have all been , uh, all been very good and adhering to the rules. And again, it's all about the safety , uh, of the community and the businesses and the people, the patrons. Uh, that's the goal. Keep everybody safe.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think , uh , everyone's excited to get back to work, to get out and about to , to get back to normal life. And I think you make a good point that , uh, that has gotta be a tempered process rather than something that we just rush into because we're all getting a little impatient. W would you agree?

Speaker 5:

I agree. You know, it's, it's little by little, let's see how the , the trend or the statistics increase, decrease, stay the same. Obviously we, you know, we're working on opening fully, right? Right. Well, you don't want to step backwards. Everybody has done a good job up to this point, but , uh, we got to keep the momentum going. Sure. So , uh, everybody continues to social distancing wearing the mask, not , uh, you know, the groups of 10 or less, those are all still in play.

Speaker 2:

And those, those restaurant capacities, what, what are we looking at for that?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, the restaurants have to be within 50%. Okay. Right. So have an indoor capacity and then you may have an outdoor capacity, a social distancing, six feet between each table and so forth. But , uh, all the , the masking, all the protection that they could do , uh, is still in play.

Speaker 2:

And that , that's a good point. We've gotten some questions , uh, through various means about , uh, how do I go out to eat with a mask on? And of course, it , you know, that might seem like a silly question, but at the end of the day, the best guidance I think we can give is , uh, wear the mask while you're waiting for your table when you're, you know, or if you're walking through a doorway and you can't social distance, but then obviously take it off to your food. Right?

Speaker 5:

I mean, in the last podcast that I was here for, I used the word common sense, right ? Once again, common sense prevails, right? I mean, it's , uh , it's, it's for your protection and for others protection, right?

Speaker 2:

So all through this crisis, the city's really done its best to support our residents and businesses. I mean, this podcast is a direct result of wanting to get the word out and talk to various people throughout the city as well as other experts. But we've gone above and beyond and our most recent efforts involved recognizing this year as high school graduates , uh , mayor, director Goodrich. Um, would you like to discuss those plans and how we're we're doing that?

Speaker 3:

Well, we had , um, discussed it very, very early about what we could do. Um, it became a timing issue. Uh, I can't necessarily schedule something if I'm still in a stay at home phase. Uh, regardless. Uh, we've had , um, some parents who have , uh, wanted to go out and do other things on their own, but it became so big that it's just not a safe thing to do. And those , um , are considered special events, which , um, there are no permits for. So , um, we came up with , um, many ideas and then we have a two week span when the kids get their caps and gowns and so that they could participate like that. So , um, turned it over to director Goodrich and council member Harland was involved because she was a very much a , um , a volunteer at one of the high schools for years. And so she had an sort of an inside track. Um, and , and of course everybody was , um, you know, while the city is dealing with many, many issues on top of the pandemic, which became social issues, which the cities aren't funded or budgeted for, which is why there was so much , um, extra responsibility on staff. Right now I will say our staff, I am amazed not one person was asked to do something that they just didn't jump up and do. But , uh, you know, here we are in , in almost month three and staff and myself are tired. So to take on this graduation event, which truly is a school board responsibility and their elected officials haven't stepped up. We've had that private conversation, but ultimately came to the conclusion that this is something to do for our residents in our graduates. But , um, and we're happy to do it . We just want to do it safely. So Phil, why don't you tell him what we finally set up?

Speaker 4:

Yes. Well, mayor , uh , I , I agree with you. You know, first and foremost, you know, this is really a responsibility of the school board and we're trying to do everything that we can. But every phase of our reopening is a, is a tax on resources, police , uh, parks and rec fire. I mean, you name it. There's always a tax on that. We can only overcome somebody else's failure to just let them use the property. And that's the more appropriate place to do it. But we're going to do everything that we can , uh, within reason. So we're going to move forward with that. So what we're going to be doing is the, we've been doing our food distribution at the West side of central park and using central park drive between Clarion Broward Boulevard , uh, with cooperation with the police department. They'll handle all the traffic and securing the area and making sure that we have a safe environment in which we do and least impactful to the rest of the community as well. Because we always have to remember that we can do one thing, we can make a plan for one thing, but how does it affect all the ancillary roads? And the environment around us , uh , we've gotten a very good system going there. Uh , for the food distribution. We're going to continue that with this, for these graduates. Um , so everybody will come , uh, each school is going to have a designated time. They'll have their own flyers, their own information. Uh, they'll be coming in from , uh, Clary Boulevard on central park drive , uh, and then they'll take central park drive South down to the entrance for central park, and then route back up North into the main parking lot there by the ball fields, which will have a stage intent set up. And each different school's gonna have different administrative staff there to, you know, wish that which the kids, you know, congratulations. And for a lot of these kids, you know, they really didn't get an opportunity to say goodbye to those teachers. Um , and that's , uh , that's an element that is, is kind of missed in all this. And I think that, you know , one of the things that's come through all of this process too, is there's, there's all these new heroes in the world. Um, and teachers were one of those, there's no question. And, and I think we start to realize the true impact that they have on both our children as well as our lives. And same thing with parks and recreation as a whole. I think we have a different value in people's minds, you know , but we're going to do everything that we can. But again, most importantly, as chief Harrison has said, now is safety has to our first and foremost priority. Right.

Speaker 3:

And what they've done is they've added a , so it's four . We have three high schools in the city, plantation high, my Alma mater, South plantation high, which is the chiefs and uh , Phil's Alma mater. So , um, and then American heritage. But we also have kids that have graduated from Nova and st Thomas and live in the city. So it's also for any senior. We're not, we're not saying, Nope, you can't come out. Of course you can come. Right . Sorry . But , um, yeah, we want to just expand it and make it for everybody. And it's interesting because during the food distribution done an average of eight to 900 cars. In a two hour period. So, you know, we've done some timing for each of the schools, which we think will be more than sufficient if it's not, we're there until it's done. Um , you know, I think the elected officials want to be there , the principals to announce names and so it was the safest component without having kids get out of the car and, and then there's no social distancing. So again, you know, there were a lot of things that go into it and the ultimate is can we get there to equal the social distancing and mayor, if I can add to that, our school resource officers for each of them will be there as well. Yes . Yeah. And you know, it's so funny, it's not funny, but I love going to the grade graduations. These kids love their SRO pros , they love them. And it's so nice to see every time I go that they , they , they don't come up to see the mayor or a council member. They had straight for the SRO. And I love it. I mean it's, and that's the purpose of having them there also

Speaker 2:

all the time. My , my children's school where they go, they come home during the school year when everything was active. They would come home with police sticker badges and they would say, you know, AARP and I don't remember her last name, but our SRO gave us these cause she said police officers are better than firemen and paramedics. They developed a relationship and then we kind of had that friendly rivalry and so yeah, absolutely. Yeah. In the back to the high school graduations , I think that's, that was monumentally , uh , all encompassing to uh , to include students who live in the city but go to other schools. I mean that's a huge consideration for those kids as well so that they're not left out. That's wonderful.

Speaker 4:

And even, even kids that are homeschooled, anybody who lives in the city, we want to recognize them for this year for the challenges that that was presented due to this, it's

Speaker 2:

a wonderful thing. One of the more prominent activities that we've undertaken since the lockdown has been setting up the caravans to help kids who are locked in, celebrate their birthdays. And that's become a little bit overwhelming in some circumstances for us. Correct. Chief Harrison,

Speaker 5:

it , it has. And um , we set out to, obviously our calls for service have dropped , um , 23.55%. Wow . And even to go a little further than that, our traffic crashes normally were around the 400 a month range. Uh, we've dropped that , uh, about 62% down to about 153 traffic crashes a month. Well, when we're not doing all of those activities, we have the time to do the drive-bys right now that businesses are starting to open up or getting a lot more busy.

Speaker 2:

Right? So we've never done this before. It's never been our practice. We've, we've never sent out police and fire resources and other city resources. It was just something we wanted to do for the community to ease that tension. Um, and at some point when we returned back to normal operations, obviously you were , we're going to have to stop this practice. Can you explain that transition and how that'll work or, yeah.

Speaker 5:

Effective on May 26th , uh , we're going to start to move to uh , uh, Tuesday through Thursday , uh, from 12 noon to 7:00 PM. Those are going to be the times that we're going to be able to do these drive-bys. At some point we're going to have to start weaning off of this, right? As other businesses, again, as I said earlier, start opening up, things are getting a lot busier. You're actually right now you see more traffic on the roadway. Uh , so when that happens, we're going to have to, we're going to have to put a stop to what we're doing here.

Speaker 3:

We've all had that discussion already. When do we end it? When do we , um, that it can't go on? I mean, you know how it is. You've seen the , the schedule here at the fire department. So , um, y'all average , um, five, six, seven a day, a day. And so we were happy to do it. We were happy because no one could get out, but we are also opening up, which allows other options. So we are , um, again, as the chief said, as we move forward with more opening, we have to really come back to what our initial purpose of, of fire and police is all about. So , uh , it will end , um, probably , um, Oh, I'm not even saying properly because everything, everything changes every day . So, yeah. But it's already been discussed and we, you know , certainly appreciate, I know everybody was out for my granddaughter's 18th birthday and , um , the whole neighborhood comes out. We are so excited to see a fire truck or police one. I did a caravan with a realtor last Friday who was giving out scholarships. Oh my gosh. I couldn't believe how many people were out. So it brings a smile to everybody's eye. That's sort of been in there. Then of course you have the critics about the whole process, but I think , um, I think it was the right thing to do at a, at a terrible time in our history. So I was glad that we could do it, but it's been an end.

Speaker 4:

Yeah . Several weeks ago when we did that caravan through with this public safety , uh , vehicles. Um, yeah, there were some naysayers, but they were far, far outweighed with the positive feedback by the , by the community, which was wonderful by both police and fire.

Speaker 2:

Right? Yeah. I think we all anticipated that this would have an expiration date, but that it was something that was really nice for the , the city and the community, you know, to be out there doing.

Speaker 5:

And with that being said that , you know, we've got a 72 hour window now that you have to report this and you can go to our website and there's a form that we, that you can fill out and submit. Uh, and again, it's, it's from Tuesdays through Thursday and Saturday and Sunday right now. And it's from 12 noon to 7:00 PM. And it, you know, as well as I do from a fire standpoint, police and fire, we've been doing some individually, a lot of them together. So it's a lot of resource to put for this particular function. And again, it's getting to a point where we need to go back to the traditional law enforcement fire department , um, duty calls. Yes, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And you made, you made the best point, which is during this lockdown and a stay at home orders, traffic reduced accidents, reduced injuries due to traffic reduced. Uh , it's not just the PDs call volume that's down in the fire departments call volumes down as well. So that's just a natural part. But as things start to open up and traffic starts to increase, all both of our call volumes are gonna start going up. Right. So finally has, or have we, have we had any discussion about possible trigger points that identify the closing of phase one and the opening or the beginning of the second phase? Has there, has there been any discussion on that?

Speaker 3:

Um, you know, it's interesting when , uh, everyone was supposed to be , uh, had certain criteria to go into each of the phases. Um, somehow that criteria sort of changed and places got open. So the discussions that the mayors have on their conference calls with the County. Well, it's a very interesting, you know, so you sort of have a split. Everybody wants everything open and says collateral damage type stuff, which they certainly wouldn't say in public. And then you have the other side that says science before politics. And um, so it , it's a very careful balance. I think that the County administrator is doing more than her share of research and phone calls and trying to make the best calls for everybody. But I can't say how we'll get into phase two and, and what their real markers are. We may not think people are ready. And that's where we as a city get to decide our own orders and make them stricter. And , um, I know , um, actually right after this , uh , meeting again with all the first responders and , um , to discuss it again and I think they will all say that we've all had second thoughts about timing and we don't want to have to go backwards. Um, but as we did in the parks, we will, we have to and, and so, you know, you're sort of damned if you do, damned if you don't type thing. And this is going to be , uh , one of those. But I think we're all willing to say we erred on the side of safety and, and there's no argument for that, but it doesn't mean we don't struggle with what's best for our city.

Speaker 2:

And, and caution , uh , cautious optimism. I mean, we have seen other cities throughout the country, other counties, other States open everything up, throw caution to the wind, only to lock everything back down again because they had spikes in cases worse . And you're right , which is absolutely what we want to avoid. But like you said, merit , that's a , it's a very difficult dance. And I think a director Goodrich kind of summed it all up by saying not just the pool is fluid, right? Everything else. So, yes . So I want to thank you all for coming in and giving us your time today. Um, I think that we do have some cautious optimism moving forward. Uh, and the residents are, you know, starting to kind of look forward to those steps that we're taking. Um , and we appreciate all of you and all your efforts that you've put forth. Uh, staying on top of the needs of the residents and the city. And , um, we're in this together. We'll, we'll move forward together and we'll make it all work. So thank you very much.

Speaker 3:

One last thing, if I , um, we have also struggled with 4th of July celebration and I've been sort of, Nope, we're not canceling, we're not canceling our fireworks. Uh, we may have to figure out a different way for our parade, but you know, again, I know it's five weeks away. Who knows what can happen. But my optimism says we are having our 4th of July celebration too much to uh, mr Goodrich's dismay a little bit, but he's like a magician. He can make stuff happen and has ideas on how things go. So, so we're still headed in that direction. We haven't canceled that yet.

Speaker 4:

Awesome. Yeah , and we've seen you a director, Goodrich, we've seen you pull off some magic tricks. So I'm not sure if I got that much magic . We're going to do everything we can to make it enjoyable, but again, always got an error on, we're going to be safe first and foremost. Right , right . But we'll do everything that we can to make it an enjoyable holiday for everybody. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you everyone. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Been listening to the city of planned patient podcast here in plantation. We're working hard to bring you the latest, most accurate information available about the Corona virus pandemic. Remember, if you have specific questions, you can email them to ask [email protected] don't forget to visit the COBIT 19 page on our website and register forever bridge for up to the minute changes regarding the outbreak. We want to thank you for tuning in and taking the time to listen to the experts about how to keep yourselves, your family and your business safe and healthy during the prices. And don't forget to wash your hands, cover your cough and maintain a safe distance.