RUBONIA -- Mary Brown has spent the past couple days walking the streets of Rubonia, posting fliers about Monday's community workshop.
For the Rubonia Community Association chairwoman, a large attendance at the workshop is important so that the consultants, hired by Manatee County to develop a Neighborhood Action Plan for Rubonia, will be able to do their job.
"I hope people will come out and share their thoughts about what they feel needs to happen in this community," the lifelong Rubonia resident said.
At 7 p.m. Monday, Wade Trim consultants will lead a Rubonia neighborhood meeting as they develop the neighborhood action plan, which could determine if Rubonia meets the state definition of a blighted area. The meeting will be at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 1056 72nd St. Ct. E., Rubonia.
Consultants will be on hand to explain directly to residents how important their responses are in developing this plan, said Cheri Coryea, the county's neighborhood services director. They will also explain the different elements of the plan.
"They are there to ease people's fears to responding," Coryea said. "It's all going to try to establish the area for future improvements."
Residents in the neighborhood off U.S. 41 between Palmetto and Interstate 275 say Rubonia has long been neglected by the county, with its lack of sidewalks and ditches and a shuttered community center.
There are many issues that residents have strong feelings about, and Monday's workshop is "the time to share that," Brown said.
"It is crucial," Brown said. "There is a need. I want them to sit down and be honest."
As a way for Rubonia to become eligible for federal Community Development Block Grant funding, the county commission in December approved spending $21,500 to hire Wade Trim to develop the plan. The commission will be updated about the plan at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
By the end of June, the neighborhood action plan is expected to be approved by the commission and then submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rubonia became ineligible for federal community development funds due to the lack of response from Rubonia residents to the 2010 census, as well as increased development of mobile home parks around the Rubonia area.
In 1990 and 2000 census, the Rubonia area was eligible for CDBG funding.
"The purpose is to determine the specific geographical area of Rubonia that could be included in the federal Community Development Block Grant program," Coryea said. "We continued to work with the neighborhood and it appears that there is a special geographical area that should be determined eligible."
The neighborhood action plan will include a review of "demographic information, land use and zoning, environmental conditions, building conditions, neighborhood assets, public participation and slum/blight determination," according to previous agenda materials.
Lifelong Rubonia resident Charles Miller Sr., who plans to attend Monday's meeting, calls this a start to become eligible for funds.
"I'm hoping that that happens and that happens soon," Miller said. "I'm hoping it doesn't happen another 20 years down the road. ... They seem to always overlook Rubonia, and it's about time that they really start to put something back in the community."
A flier for the meeting was placed on Miller's garage door.
"I'm hoping a lot of people turn out for it," he said. "I'm hoping that everybody participates in it through the whole process to make it happen. The county has neglected Rubonia for years and years. Maybe this is the start to move forward."
While other areas of Manatee County such as Palmetto and Bradenton have been getting sidewalks, there is no consideration for Rubonia, Brown said.
"This is a historical site for Manatee County, and I feel that there should be upgrades here," she said. "Now is the time for people to speak up. There is a problem in Rubonia, and people need to speak up and tell what the needs are."
People who are interested in Rubonia and what's happening should come to Monday's meeting to "encourage and motivate people to do the right thing," Brown said.
"Wade Trim won't be able to do their job if there isn't participation," she said.
The county has been working to turn over the community center, 1309 72nd St. E.,, which has been closed since 2013, to New Path Academy. Before the deal can be finalized by the commission, the county is working with New Path Academy on the conveyance agreement. Coryea said New Path Academy has asked the county to consider some additional changes to the agreement.
"The agency hasn't felt completely comfortable with what they were signing and are requesting changes that weren't in the original agreement," Coryea said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.