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Local Officials Say Development Plans For Southside In The Works

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson announces new plans for the Southside.
Tom Flanigan

The Leon County and City of Tallahassee Commissions are considering several infrastructure projects in the Southside neighborhood. Commissioners say redevelopment could play a major role in reducing crime.

This past weekend a man was shot and killed  in the Wilson Green neighborhood off Crawfordville Highway. Two months ago, shootings in Wilson Green were part of the city's decision to launch Operation Safe Neighborhoods—an effort to increase patrols and visibility of officers. A report by the Urban Land Institute says the city could help the area by focusing on building projects like sidewalks to allow for a more active lifestyle.  City Commissioner Curtis Richardson says he saw such proposals in action during recent visits to Tampa and St. Petersburg:

“The areas we visited were low-income areas, just like the one’s you’ve described. But Lynn if no one had told me, I wouldn’t know those were low-income areas because of the housing and the investment those cities have made in those areas," Richardson said.

“We looked for a mix of things. Measures that were capable of being put in place in a short amount of time so they could become confidence builders," said David Powell, an attorney with Hopping Green and Sams who chaired the Urban and Land Institutes survey team.

He says many of the recommendations are short term goals that can lead to more long-term projects. He says there are a lot of good programs in the area. But something is lacking: coordination.  

"We thought that if a plan was developed and committed to by the city, there are an awful lot of things in the area of built environment that could be accomplished in a reasonable time, five years or less, that would make a big impact out there," he said.

And that’s not the only proposal on the table. The Leon County Commission recently discussed a plan to revamp the North Florida fairgrounds and create an indoor sports complex and meeting hall.  The Grounds are located in the Center of the Southside area and County Commissioner Nick Maddox believes they could be of use to the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

“Allowing people to go in there and play basketball when there aren’t tournaments there gives the community something to do and another gym to go to aside from Jack McLean," Maddox said.

The county already has most of the funding it needs to revamp the fairgrounds.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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