Well into his first month as Mayor of Broward County, Beam Furr has highlighted recycling, public transportation, pre-school childcare and affordable housing as key areas of concern for the new year ahead.
Recently, Broward County officials met with consulting company Arcadis, which is charged with first determining the county’s current trash situation.
“We want to find out how much waste is being generated by Broward County and what the amount will be in the future,” said Furr. “How much trash is plastic, food, metal, glass and other things. What is the best way to recycle what can be recycled and what can be burned and what must be put in landfills?”
The goal, he says, is to have a 75 per cent recycling rate for all trash. The remainder would be burned and some would be placed in landfills.
The overall plan needs to include governing structures for dealing with a large county-wide trash system, establishing how cities and the county would all work together, flow control and location planning.
And then there are questions on how to deal with recycled material. For example, plastic trash can be recycled into plastic lumber that is often used in park benches. One goal could be to develop a market for locally produced plastic lumber and other recycled materials.
Furr is a believer that the long-discussed penny sales tax would be the answer to some much-needed major transportation improvements in the county. But he also believes a strong effort must be made to educate the public on the benefits of the sales tax, and that there may not be enough time before the next election for people to learn about the transportation needs. “We will have to lay a lot of fiber optics to improve signalization at intersections and there are other improvements we need,” he explained.
Also high on his list is an increase in affordable housing in Broward County, particularly work force housing. This might involve smaller, less expensive “starter” apartments, ideally linked to public transportation hubs. He believes that more apartment housing is the future of Broward County and would like to see cost incentives to encourage developers to build more affordable housing. Furr also wants to see more companies in Broward County that pay higher wages so that people don’t have to struggle to pay for housing.
“The number of people needing affordable housing is big. Affordable housing and public transportation are very important issues in Broward County,” he believes.
Finally, Furr said he wants to focus more on early childhood care. He believes that people who work with pre-school age children should have additional education and training and will be investigating a certification program for those involved in their supervision.