First public hearing on CRA transition to Bradenton City Council to take place Wednesday evening

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton City Council will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday on a proposal that it assume control of the city's three community redevelopment agencies.

The council will hold the first of two required public hearings in the council chambers at City Hall.

City officials supporting the proposal for the council to be the CRAs' boards say the move will streamline efforts to remove slum and blight. The three CRAs affected are the Central Community Redevelopment Agency in East Bradenton; the 14th Street CRA, which encompasses an area between 14th and Ninth streets West to 26th Avenue West; and the Bradenton CRA, which is the downtown area.

What remains unclear is the future of the Braden

ton Downtown Development Authority, which oversees the Bradenton CRA and 14th Street West CRA. Only Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith has outlined a definitive plan that includes keeping the DDA intact.

At its Tuesday meeting, DDA board member Mike Carter outlined short-and long-range planning goals to better communicate with council, improve its economic development presence and effectively outline DDA goals, especially in the 14th Street West CRA.

While there is a measure of success in the 14th Street West CRA, including progress in the Village of the Arts and in the Ninth Street West entertainment district, DDA members acknowledged Tuesday blighted neighborhoods south of the village have not received enough of the the board's attention.

Those residents showed up in force at last week's meeting between the councils and the CRA board to remind representatives the CRAs were receiving their tax dollars with none being reinvested into their neighborhoods.

"I came away from that workshop understanding there was a strong sentiment that the 14th Street CRA might not be well represented," said Carter. He outlined a presentation to be made to the council Wednesday to show city officials the DDA has a "meat-on-bones" plan to move forward, including more presence in those communities.

DDA program administrator Karen Keyser said the board created a Tamiami Trail Task Force of concerned citizens many years ago. The re-creation of a citizen-led advisory group would benefit the DDA's efforts south of the village, she said. DDA vice Chairwoman Jayne Kocher said she also would like the Village of the Arts Tapestry Committee, which has had success with the village, be expanded to the south.

Carter agreed: "Those are the voices I heard at the meeting. I heard their voices asking for help."

The DDA presentation will include a plan to look for individuals from the Village of the Arts and to the south to serve in an advisory role.

Long-range planning would begin by revisiting multiple studies done in recent years to use as a checklist of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.

A second public hearing has tentatively been scheduled for June.

If the council approves the proposed changes, supporters say they want it to take effect by Jan. 1.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-4510 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.

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