‘Sense of place project’ brings change to South City

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

Construction that the city has labeled “a sense of place project” is well underway on Tallahassee’s Southside.

The project, which includes installing sidewalks, clearing a creek and street resurfacing, will make for better public safety in the area, said City Manager Reese Goad. He also said that some of the work that is now highly visible has been taking place for some time.

“It’s complicated but I’m glad to see the progress we are making,” Goad said, following a recent tour of the streets where construction is taking place. “I think the neighbors will be happy with the product.”

At a glance, the project is broken down by the streets and roads in the area to cover sidewalks, utility, stormwater and street resurfacing that run from Country Club Drive on the north side of the area between Magnolia and Orange Avenue. It goes west to South Monroe Street.

City Manager Reese Goad inspects the progress of work being done to improve the Country Club Creek that runs through South City.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

According to an itemized breakdown of cost released by Goad, the project is priced well over $6 million.

One of the biggest changes, a community park that fronts Meridian Street between Orange Avenue and Polk Drive, was funded by Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency.  Money for projects undertaken by the agency comes from a penny tax.

Eventually, the park will be converted into a transfer station for StarMetro public transportation system. Additionally, Blueprint will do a makeover of the Eastside Drainage Ditch that runs parallel to the Towne South Shopping Center.

The ditch, which flows into the Munson Slough, will be connected to the Country Club Creek.  

Meanwhile, the city has plans to complete a stretch of sidewalk from Polk Drive near Meridian to South Monroe. The section of Polk Drive from Meridian that circles around to Orange Avenue already has a newly installed sidewalk.

As workers clear an area known as the Country Club Creek, a sidewalk is being installed on Putnam Drive, completing the stretch from Monroe to Country Club Drive.

The project, especially work on Putnam, has caught the eyes of many like Christic Henry, a Southside advocate for a better quality of life in the area. Henry called the Putnam stretch “very dangerous” because of its many turns.

“People are looking at walk-ability under the standard of safety,” she said, praising the work being done by the city. “You also have to deal with some mitigation of traffic there.”

She suggested that speed bumps and other forms of traffic calming could help to improve public safety even more.

A sidewalk is also in the works for Texas Street, one of the areas that has heavy foot traffic.

 The improvements are creating a lot of open space in the area but more than that, Goad said they’re meeting a demand.

“I believe this is a reflection of a need for investment,” he said. “There have been a lot of voices calling for investment in our Southside and that’s what we are doing. I’m proud that the mayor and the commissioners are supporting it.”

Pedestrian traffic between Monroe and Lafayette streets where a path of grass is the only place to walk, will also improve with a sidewalk. A portion of that is already completed up to Country Club.

Future plans for the Southside also include putting a traffic light and a crossing path at the roundabout that intersects Orange Avenue and Jim Lee Road, Goad said. He estimated that money spent during the next five years by the CRA, Blueprint and the city could reach $1 billion.

Most of the city’ capital project over the next five years are in the Southside, he said, calling it improvements that are necessary “to make sure that everybody has equal access to our community and improve the quality of life.” 

He added: “It cuts through all the priorities of the city, whether it’s public safety, quality of life, economic and development. To have a whole, strong community is important.”

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