On the evening of September 15th, 2020 Norman Fialkowsky witnessed the unthinkable. Right before his eyes a Toyota Tacoma truck ran over a young boy and sped off. Norman expressed his rage and utter disgust for this callous act in the Living in Oakland Park Facebook group:“Freaking piece of shit in a grey Toyota Tacoma license first three digits kyg — hit a child on a bicycle at 34 st and 10 ave…..Fucker just drove off like nothing happened”.
Norman was not the only Oakland Park resident enraged by this utter lack of regard for the life of a child. Sam, another Oakland Park resident, mother of a young boy herself with another one on the way, has been working on a petition for speeding control measures since October of 2018. With this hit and run, so close to home, she decided to pursue her petition more vigorously and posted the addresses needed for the 67% majority on the Living in Oakland Park Facebook Group.
Not the First Incident
When we spoke to Sam, she shared with us that her desire to seek a solution was not because of this one isolated incident, there have been others. One quite literally hit especially close to home for her.
This latest hit and run occurred at the same location in which a neighbor was hit a few years before at Christmas time. The driver of that hit and run was never found or charged. He has been in his wife’s care ever since. Sam’s neighbor, who has lived in the area for 20+ years, has dozens more stories of cars spinning out and crashing into poles, other cars, etc. In fact, after Sam moved to the neighborhood, her own fence was struck by a drunk driver.
“It happened at 3PM during the week, when children walk home from school (it just happened to be an early release day which gives me chills). Children walking on those sidewalks would still be hit. My 3 year old (then 1) was outside with my husband only 15 minutes prior playing in the backyard. The report did not conclude the driver was drunk as he was already home when they found his car… Happened to be right before Halloween so we tried to make humor of the situation but truthfully I was scared to go outside for months with my kid… We found shards of plastic, glass and even sharp wood spikes months later in spots that we didn’t know it could have flown that far”.
Below are pictures of what remained of her fence after being hit and what the condition of the car that it hit.
The Decision to Petition for Speed Control Measures
While all this was overwhelming what prompted the move for a petition was a remark made by an officer after her fence was plowed into: “Well, that’s what happens when you live on a MAIN street”. She commented further “This is a residential zone and the apathy from this person who is supposed to “protect and serve” only fueled our decision to go forward with a petition. I am hoping to trust the process that the local governmental level is where we can make real change and get involved“.
The Petition Gains Momentum
The City has provided the addresses which need to sign the petition. 67% of the residents whose address was listed need to sign the petition in order for it to move forward. Sam has been working on collecting the signature of her neighbors but it has not been an easy task: “With the FL heat and a toddler, it was hard to go door-to-door unless extremely early or later in the evening. Another neighbor helped try to collect signatures but she was care giving for her husband (unfortunately the gentleman who was hit on Xmas). With COVID, I am limited on door-to-door to finish the task but may need to do so or send letters to the remaining homes asking for a signature“.
However, since she posted in the Facebook Group, residents whose addresses are listed have come forward to sign. In fact, while I was writing this article she collected another signature.
When we asked her: “What do you hope will come/be the result of this effort ?“, she responded:
“I understand that speed bumps are a controversial topic … I hope that the Traffic Calming Study will be conducted and go from there. …We need this issue to be acknowledged before another incident occurs…Raised tables, roundabouts; there are different and innovative ways to help people stay the speed limit but I need help getting it started”.
If you would like to sign make sure your address is on this petition, contact us for more info.
Alternative Solutions and Opposition
While many of the residents in the area have volunteered to sign the petition since she posted it, many are not in favor of the addition of speed bumps. Some neighbors offered alternative solutions such as raised tables, or increased speeding fines. Others were adamantly opposed opining that they didn’t think they would work work and would just be a nuisance for them when driving down the street.
One solution proposed by our very own staff writer, Rhiannon Samoyedny, called for a greater understanding of why this happens: “We need to address the core issue behind hit and runs. Why do they happen? Why so prevalent here in OP? We need some experts on this topic and some proactive support from law enforcement”.
Keith Volpe, another member of the Living In Oakland Park Facebook group suggested taking the time to consider different viewpoints: “When many diverse viewpoints are incorporated, new unknown solutions present themselves and the outcome tends to be greater than with just one small viewpoint”. He concluded with the hashtag #bettertogether. And yes we are better together because together we can find solutions to this issue, #TogetherWeAreOP.
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About the Author
Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for almost 33 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism. Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations in real estate. She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. She helps clients in Oakland Park and throughout South Florida with their real estate endeavors. Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.
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