A Bond with Bond – CRA adopts neighborhood first plan

My View

By Curtis Richardson,

Chair of the CRA

Last week, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) helped set the course for investment in the Greater Bond Neighborhood by embracing the vision of the residents who live there. The CRA Board, which is comprised of members of the Tallahassee City Commission, voted unanimously to support the Greater Bond Neighborhood First Plan. Significant and passionate community engagement and participation lead to the creation of the plan, successfully demonstrating what can be done when neighbors work collaboratively with each other, local government and community partners.

As a long-time Southside resident, I’m proud of the proactive efforts of my neighbors. Tallahassee is a city made up of hundreds of neighborhoods. Each with its own unique vibe, our neighborhoods are the places where we choose to purchase homes, invest our time and energy, raise our children and grow thriving careers, and each of us plays a part in ensuring they continue to reflect our values and community pride. A core component of this is identifying issues and working toward solutions, which is what the Neighborhood First Plan does. This process and plan can serve as a model for other neighborhoods to emulate to bring about change and improve the quality of life for residents.

The plan presents a multi-year vision for revitalizing the Greater Bond neighborhood, including elements that can be swiftly executed, like hosting Operation Safe Neighborhoods walks, as well as long-range vision items that take shape over time. Its four priority areas (Community Beautification, Economic Development and Resident Empowerment, Land Use, and Neighborhood Safety and Crime Prevention) set the stage for a holistic approach to foster a solid future for Greater Bond.

To ensure implementation begins quickly, the CRA Board approved an initial allocation of $500,000 for a kickoff project that encompasses action items from all four priority areas of the plan. Two key elements of the kickoff project are enhancements at Speed-Spencer-Stephens Park and the creation of a linear park that connects Speed-Spencer-Stephens Park to Wahnish Way and the new Tallahassee Junction.

Adopting the Greater Bond Neighborhood First plan demonstrates the mission of the CRA beautifully, which is to create and implement strategies that use a combination of public and private resources to facilitate redevelopment that enhances the built environment and strengthens local economic conditions within the redevelopment district. To meet this goal, the CRA seeks projects that help reduce or eliminate the continuation and/or spread of blight.

Greater Bond, located on Tallahassee’s Southside, is home to more than 3,100 people, Bond Elementary School and Walker-Ford Community Center. The community has a strong history; however, the area has wrestled with crime in recent years, along with high unemployment and substandard housing. Yet, engaged residents recognize the potential and are optimistic that this area, a diamond in the rough, is poised for renewal. By strategically undertaking efforts to address the four priority areas identified in the Neighborhood First Plan, it will once again shine as a beacon of prosperity.

Continued engagement of the neighbors, the City and various community partners will ensure the plan is successful. With collaboration and commitment, we can continue to strengthen the community, enhance public safety and boost the quality of life.