BRADENTON -- Showing the low-income communities within the Central Community Redevelopment Agency's district in East Bradenton that they are more than all talk and no action, the CCRA is moving ahead swiftly to coordinate an action plan based on residents' participation at a Nov. 3 Faith Based Alliance town hall meeting.
Faith Based Alliance Chairman Pastor Don Sturiano said at the meeting where more than 50 engaged citizens attended: "This is not an evening for final solutions. This is a start."
The ball is rolling, according to CCRA Manager Jesus Nino, who said the meeting was "very productive. People really participated and added value to it. We received a few hundred comments and we are working to put that together to make a presentation to the CCRA board, city council and to Manatee County. From there, we will form an ad hoc committee to review those comments and formulate some good programs for the community based on those comments."
Participants at the meeting split into several small groups to tackle education, economic development, neighborhood safety, community services and other issues facing their neighborhoods.
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CCRA Director Tim Polk, who is retiring in January, said he will likely remain involved in the alliance.
"I'm still very enthused and feel really impassioned by the community. What you saw the other night is people who really care and people who want their opinions noticed, because often they feel like their opinions don't matter," Polk said.
Participants were highly engaged and focused on community issues. That kind of involvement at the grassroots level is inspiring the growing Faith Based Alliance, which was launched by the CCRA about 18 months ago. Seeing the level of community engagement, Polk said, "It emboldens you to do good and make sure needs are met."
Polk said the Faith Based Alliance is much more than a good idea, calling it a "God idea because it connects people who are hurting to people who can help. That's a God idea."
The Faith Based Alliance also will address the results of the town hall at its regular monthly meetings held every third Thursday at the National Guard Armory, 2100 13th Ave. E.
Sturiano said additional town hall meetings will be scheduled in the coming months. He said he hopes to have at least two a year.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.