TALLAHASSEE — During the Oct. 26 City Commission meeting, a lone representative voted against a proposed development impacting the Myers Park neighborhood. Commissioner Curtis Richardson said his advocating on behalf of neighborhoods is nothing new.
Richardson voted against his fellow commissioners on a proposal to redevelop approximately ten acres owned by the city of Tallahassee located between Cascades Park and the Myers Park neighborhood. The proposed housing concept development program could yield approximately 100 to 150 residential units at a density of 10 to 15 dwelling units per acre and would hopefully act as a sound barrier between Cascades Park’s amphitheater and the neighborhood.
You can see our full report on the Myers Park vote here.
Richardson said his vote against it was consistent with his 20 years as a strong neighborhood advocate which began before he was commissioner, when he first moved to Tallahassee.
He said a proposed multi-family project in his neighborhood caused him to organize the Tuskegee Neighborhood Association. Since then he has continued to fight for neighborhoods he said are “begging for their very existence.”
Of the Myer’s Park development, he said, “We owe it to those who are invested in those neighborhoods — who have lived there for years, have raised families, who want to retire there — (to protect them). They never could have imagined 10, 20 years ago that this kind of development would be proposed.”
He explained, “They aren’t against development. It’s the density of development and what that will do to change the character of those neighborhoods, they are against.”
Richardson said the city has acted to stem urban sprawl for many years now and has encouraged, what he called “in-field development,” which increases development of existing urban areas.
He said, “The challenge now is how do we encourage in-field development and growth which we know has to occur but at the same time protect the very character and nature of those existing neighborhoods.”
He said some of the development is “encroaching on the things we value most,” the character and uniqueness of the urban neighborhoods.
He explained he understands the desire to encourage in-field development. It reduces the cost of expanding infrastructure and other problems associated with urban sprawl, but he is afraid the city has gone beyond the balance and is now adversely impacting existing neighborhoods.
Richardson said in the case of Myer’s Park, residents need a sound buffer to protect them from the concerts and events happening in Cascades Park.
He said the commission had approved a half million dollar 30 foot wall to act as a buffer.
But after the plans were reviewed, “the rendering would not have fit with the historic nature of the neighborhood. It called for a 10 foot berm with a 20 foot wall built on top. Staff then looked at other options, including residential development of that area, which would act as sound buffer.”
Richardson said after the vote, “I insisted staff work with the neighborhood to come up with a design they could be satisfied with and support.”
He promised the neighborhoods would have many opportunities to meet and comment on the project before it proceeds.
“These meetings will be held publicly,” Richardson said. “There will be opportunities for input from the community and the neighborhood associations that would be impacted, including those from Woodland Drive and Indian Head.”