Southside organization outlines agenda for change

Most of the second meeting of the Southside United Citizens Action Alliance was spent brainstorming ways to fix some of the issues in the area.
Photo by Katrina Alexander

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

A group that wants to have more investment in Tallahassee’s south side from the Community Redevelopment Agency recently outlined some of its agenda that it plans to send to government officials.

The wish list is a lengthy and ambitious one that the Southside United Citizens Actions Alliance hopes will bring major changes.  They are hoping that issues pertaining to bringing businesses and affordable housing to the area could be addressed now that there is a move afoot to disband the Downtown CRA.
While the Downtown CRA is also being investigated by the FBI, the Frenchtown-Southside CRA will remain functional.

In addition to development, the SUCAA outlined a long list that included environmental concerns and empowering Southside residents.

“We are going to organize our thoughts, our deals, our plans and we are going to solicit additional input,” said Dianne Williams-Cox, who has been leading the group since its initial meeting last month. “Our goal is to eventually have a pilot that we are going to present to our city and county commissioners to let them know what we want on the Southside.”

One of the immediate things that the group would like the CRA to address is a request to upgrade the parking lot where Piggly Wiggly is located in the Southside Shopping Center. There have been discussions between the property owner and the CRA by those talks went nowhere, with the owner citing the expense even with a match from the CRA.

“We want the parking lot where Piggly Wiggly is to look like the Publix parking lot,” Williams-Cox said. “You know what I’m saying. People shop there and they ought to be able to come to a safe parking lot and not tear their cars up.”

But the group is focused on the bigger picture. They called for more vigilant code enforcement on the owners of abandon property on the Southside. The issue could be approach with a pool of volunteers that will help report abandoned property to the enforcement agency.

Seemingly there was a consensus that ridding the Southside of abandoned property could be the first step to enticing investors to take a look at development possibilities in the Southside area.

The organization also called for more business and community involvement in the environment. Kathryn Schroeder made a point when she talked about a recent visit to Lake Alberta Park off Lake Bradford.

During her walk she saw a 24-bottle case of empty beer bottles that were scatted. Worst, she said, some of them were shattered on the walking path.
She also suggested that business owners do more to keep their surroundings clean of trash by setting up recycling bins.

“We need to be visible in our community that we have Southside pride,” she said. “We need signs against littering to make people stop and think.”

During the two-hour meeting, SUCCA members were split into groups to work up a list that they eventually came up with. That was followed by high-energy discussions on the topics.

They also tackled the issue of racial profiling by law enforcement on the Southside, which has a high crime rate.

“In an unbalanced way, they are racially profiling the Southside,” said Lakey Love, who spoke for one of the groups. “They are using technology more on the Southside than like; say Killearn.”