The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board finally voted to accept five broad policy goals, but not before frustration among some members boiled over.
City Commissioner Scott Maddox, visibly frustrated, said, “it is hard for me to imagine a more confusing process. This is absurd and ridiculous! There have been six hours of meetings and we have not voted on one priority. This is ridiculous!”
County Commissioner Dozier added she was “embarassed by the workshop process.”
It was Maddox and Dozier who had originally asked that the CRA staff to have a workshop so that members could more clearly define the role of the CRA. Maddox had voiced concerns over spending CRA money on projects that stretched the bounds of what a CRA is designed to do.
County Commissioner Dozier wanted a process in place to guide spending. She said “we need policies so we can vet future projects.”
The problem began when CRA Board members showed up at the June 5th workshop to see that the meeting was designed to identify CRA priorities in Frenchtown and not to talk about the overall mission of the CRA. Tallahassee Reports published a story on that meeting here.
Today’s meeting was a continuation of the workshop. There seemed to be tension between those who wanted a high level discussion on CRA policies and others that wanted to focus on the priorities for Frenchtown.
City Commissioner Andrew Gillum indicated that Frenchtown should be the new priority because of the recent focus on Downtown and Gaines street projects. And Mayor Marks agreed, saying the “focus should be on Frenchtown and the Southside.”
A good portion of the meeting was spent by County Commissioner Dozier trying to fashion a motion that would allow the Board to address policy goals before specific projects. Dozier persevered through the process and reworded her motion at least four times to incorporate comments of her colleagues. The motion finally passed and then the Board voted to adopt five policy goals for the CRA: Economic Development, Open Spaces and Landscaping, Neighborhood Safety, Infrastructure Improvement, and Healthy Community.
The last policy goal, Healthy Community, passed after City Commissioner Scott Maddox clarified with the sponsor of the motion, City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, that this goal did not include the delivery of health care services, but rather, was focused on promoting healthy lifestyles.
The next step in the process will be to identify specific Frenchtown projects that fit within the defined policy goals. However, City Commissioner Ziffer made it clear that the first step needs to be for the CRA to help the homeless shelter move. And in this case, help means money.
The next CRA meeting is scheduled for July 10th.