BRADENTON -- The highly-anticipated plan that promises to deliver economic growth and neighborhood improvement, finally jumped off its pages and into Tuesday's BOCC work session. The SWTIF will focus on multi-modal corridors, bike and pedestrian trails and community redevelopment. The county says its goal is to bring in community character and compatibility that is influenced by local residents and powered by green infrastructure.
John Osborne, AICP Planning Official, and Cheri Coryea, Director of Neighborhood Services, delivered a presentation that used input from public workshops, neighborhood meetings and citizen stakeholders.
Part of the plan is to utilize vacant county properties for community needs where neighborhoods play a major role in deciding what would best suit their area.
Osborne said, "The retail world is changing, it could be big box stores turning into little boxes."
Coryea said, "What makes a big difference is homeownership -- instead of rentals."
Commissioner Gallen said it all sounded good but asked, "How do we keep the blight from creeping in?
Coryea answered, "For the past few years we have been just stopping the bleeding," (referring to the loss in local business brought on by the recession) then referenced "neighborhood involvement" as one of the economic engines that keeps investment afloat.
Osborne suggested getting the colleges involved, and mentioned a design school in Sarasota, and how it could be a fountain of ideas.
Some of the goals and objectives listed in the literature stated: Enhance aesthetics and platemaking appeal of public and private properties as a quality of life economic development driver.
Another one of the objectives: Promote health/sports activities through enhanced opportunities for parks, green-space, urban park areas, greenways and other recreational alternatives.
In addition to the annual $400,000 that is estimated to be generated from the SWTIF, other funding for the urban redevelopment will come from FDOT, Community Development Block Grants and the use of SHIP housing loans.
Both Coryea and Osborne encourage public participation at the next public meeting, to be held August 26 at the Ezra Cafe, 5629 Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
County Commissioners will be there and will not be making statements, to keep from violating Sunshine Laws (not an advertised public meeting) but will nonetheless be there to listen to what citizens have to say.
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