Officials differ on "east-west divide" in Parkland

Does an east-west divide exist in Parkland, with people in the east nursing the grouse that they are neglected?

Real or imaginary, it is a subject that refuses to go away. There is no consensus among residents, not even among city officials.

With the city acquiring the wedge property in the west, setting aside land for three schools in the area, and considering various plans by developers for the nearly 2,000-acre area, the issue has once again become a point of debate. Not surprisingly, officials discussed it at the city’s strategic planning workshop that was held recently.

Christine Hunschofsky, newly elected and fresh off the campaign trail, knows the divide isn’t a thing of the past.

“I heard a lot about, ‘why is everything out west?’ ” she said. “People asked me, ‘With all the development happening in the west, what is going on in the east?’ “

Stacy Kagan, who was elected unopposed, believes the same way, too. “People in the east feel neglected. It is there, still there.”

Commissioner Dave Rosenof did not agree. “It feels to me that it is not as much as it used to be,” he said. “With all the new amenities in the city, things have changed. I don’t hear people talking about it these days.”

Mayor Michael Udine had a different view. “I don’t see it as east versus west,” he said. “It is the old versus the new. The older, long-term residents are seeing life in general change. We built the fire station in the east. It is an amazing facility, but some people say it killed the pumpkin patch.”

Former mayor Robert Marks has lived in Parkland long enough to see most of the major changes that have happened in the city. He doesn’t think any part of the city is being neglected.

“It is memories,” he said. “There are a lot of things that people in the east experienced that they feel is gone. It is the tendency to miss what you have experienced.

“It is a different mentality in the west,” Marks said. “Out in the east, it is more of a village mentality. Parkland was always a refuge. We didn’t have the mini mansions when we started out. When the west was built, that is when the density came. That being said, it is still a beautiful city.”

Officials in favor of 55 and over community

One of the projects that officials would like to see in the city is a 55 and over community with smaller, high-quality homes in a neighborhood that is denser than other parts of the city. The city should provide opportunities for older residents and grandparents to continue living in the city, they said.

The city should focus on retaining its small-town feeling and concentrate on low-density development, officials said. All of them supported efforts to maintain an elegant, high-end community appearance.

Among the goals over a five-year period are a financially sound city government, public schools of excellence, first-class leisure and cultural amenities, preservation of Parkland’s character and a high-performance city organization. The city will focus more on using social media to reach its residents.

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