BRADENTON -- Rolling the political dice against public opposition Wednesday, Bradenton City Council members voted 4-1 to assume control of the city's three community redevelopment agencies effective Jan. 1.
About a half dozen citizens once again asked councilmembers to slow the process, expressing concerns the city is moving forward without an established restructuring plan.
There was also public comment to leave intact the Central Community Redevelopment Agency in East Bradenton.
Norma Dunwoody, a Bradenton Housing Authority board member, said the CCRA "is doing a heck of a job in my community. ... Leave our CCRA alone."
CCRA Chairman Stephen Thompson said the move would endanger agency momentum.
"We really just started to gather that momentum and we are poised to make significant changes," he said. "I'm concerned that a sudden shift will unfortunately result in a loss of momentum."
Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown said he agreed council has not done enough in expressing to the public why restructuring is needed, especially when the Florida League of Cities points to the city as a "benchmark in how it's working. I feel we are rushing to judgment in changing the way we are and would have liked to see a plan in place first. Why not wait to get more information to the public?"
Brown was the lone dissenter on council. Mayor Wayne Poston has opposed the restructuring as well.
"This is something I think is wrong," Poston said. "The more people we get involved in government, the better government is."
Citing an effort to have Manatee County become a charter government years ago, which would have required cities to gain county approval before spending money, Poston said: "This is exactly what this is by having (the CRA boards) have to come before you hat in hand and say: 'May we do this?'"
Restructuring supporters said the priority is to decide if council wanted to be the CRA board. Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith, who has outlined a general restructuring plan, said: "Until we determine if we want to be the CRA board, we have no authority to change what's going on."
The council will continue planning the restructuring leading up to Jan. 1 and some tentative issues are resolved.
Smith moved to outline an economic development department, which passed unanimously.
There appears to be some consensus to leave the CCRA as an advisory board, leave the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority intact as a DDA board and advisory board for the Bradenton CRA and create a new 14th Street West CRA advisory board.
Ward 1 Councilman Patrick Roff said he is confident the transition will be smooth and Ward 5 Councilman Harold Byrd took it one step further.
"I promise you there will be a plan in place before any implementation takes place," he said.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.