Western Communities Must Support Plan For SR 7 Lobbyist

The fight for the extension of State Road 7 to Northlake Blvd. appears headed to the federal level, and several local leaders have expressed the need to lobby the issue in Washington. With strong opposition from West Palm Beach — which is already lobbying at the state and federal levels — the western communities must come together to win this battle and make sure there is a safe way for residents to travel in and out of our communities.

The Western Communities Council, which has taken the lead on this effort, is made up of elected officials from each of the western communities. It is designed to provide a coordinated response to regional issues.

At the Dec. 10 Western Communities Council meeting, local municipalities agreed to go before their elected leaders and ask for a $5,000 pledge of support to hire a lobbyist to respond to the aggressive West Palm Beach lobbying effort that has already drawn support from U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-District 22) and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-District 20).

The Town of Loxahatchee Groves, the Indian Trail Improvement District and the Village of Royal Palm Beach have pledged $5,000 to support lobbying services proposed by the Western Communities Council to help fight for the crucial expansion of SR 7 to Northlake. Earlier this month, the Village of Wellington reaffirmed its support for the extension, but had not yet offered financial support.

It’s imperative that all of the western communities get moving and make its message heard: the long-promised SR 7 extension is needed, and it’s what is best for the community. Unfortunately, West Palm Beach — which could not get support to block the extension from state leaders — has taken its message and trumped-up environmental concerns to the federal level, counting on the support from officials who are not familiar with our community or our situation.

Now it’s up to our leaders to bring the message from the western communities to Washington and push to be heard. Although it’s important to make sure the road will not seriously impact the environment, experts have likened the situation to many other roads through sensitive wetlands. Thanks to the expert mitigation abilities of the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Transportation, we are sure the missing SR 7 segment can be built without significantly impacting wildlife or water quality.

It’s a message that won’t come cheap, but it’s important for the safety of our community to push the issue and have our voices heard. We hope elected officials are willing to come together and take up the fight, whatever the cost. It’s a road we will all benefit from, and it’s something we must all fight for.