Area Residents Suing City Allege Improper Road Closures In Boynton Still Neighborhood

Aug 20, 2019

From left: Vivian Scott, Samuel McKinney, and Robert Davis, Jr., are the three plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City of Tallahassee that claims the City improperly closed to roads.
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Tallahassee, claiming it didn’t follow its own procedure for closing two public roads.

The suit is related to the joint City and Blueprint 2000 project, which is demolishing a small neighborhood enclave to make way for an extension FAMU Way. Leighanne Boone is the attorney representing three plaintiffs who use the area as a gathering space.

“The City actually erected a fence that cut off access to Miles Street and Still court in the Boynton Still neighborhood, and also prevented the gatherers who meet there on a regular basis, every evening, from accessing their cultural heritage site,” Boone said.  

The site is where black-owned restaurant Shingles Chicken House used to stand. The lawsuit seeks to re-open the roads until the City can go through what Boone says are the proper steps. That includes giving adequate public notice and approval by the Development Review Committee.

“There was no public notice posted at the site,” Boone added. “There was no application to close the roads, there was no publication in the newspaper and there was no resolution by the city Commission.”

Miles Street and Still Court both get pedestrian traffic, and the three plaintiffs bringing the suit against the City say the City’s fencing is disrupting those who use them. Robert Davis, Jr., says the area serves as a gathering place, as well as part of his daily commute.

“It affects my commute, to and fro, because this is like a short cut – a detour from traffic,” Davis said Monday, sitting at the point where the two roads meet. “This is the area that I grew up in, and the trees, it’s nice and shady when you come through. And why take these trees out when you could re-route the whole project and put your pond somewhere else?”

Davis is referring to a stormwater pond that will be put in the adjacent area as part of the FAMU Way project.

The chairs people sit to gather each evening have been moved from the spot where Shingle’s Chicken used to be, to the edge of Mill Street. Next to that, the site of a now-demolished warehouse.

Vivian Scott is another plaintiff in the suit.

“I use Miles Street to come to Mills street to get to where I have to go. I live off of Roberts Ave., so once I come down Stuckey Street, I turn to get into the neighborhood on Miles St. to get through to Mills because I don’t like the roundabout,” Scott said, referencing the roundabout that connects Gamble Street and FAMU Way. “I think they’re dangerous.”

According to City Engineer Steve Shafer, the road closures were only a temporary measure. 

"With construction underway, it was necessary to temporarily close the road to create a safe working environment for the contractor and the public," Shafer said in a statement. "The process for any permanent closures will be completed in the future once stormwater project plans are finalized."