How should Apopka spend its CRA budget?

How should Apopka spend its CRA budget?

Community Redevelopment Agency: The Bucks Start Here

Opinion

By Greg Jackson, Esq.

After taking three consecutive weeks to write about violence in the Apopka community, my sincere hope is that I now have your attention so that I can share my opinion of how strategic, deliberate economic development within underserved areas of Apopka may serve as one of the major solutions to the problem. Just recently, a small Central Florida town of less than 3,000 residents was visited by Governor Rick Scott who announced major jobs and economic development coming to the town. The project involves over $50 million in development and will bring over 100 high-tech jobs to an area that needs a boost to its revenue engine. A statement made by the Governor as he was greeted in a room of less than 25 people stood out to me — jobs and economic opportunities change attitudes.

Greg Jackson
Greg Jackson

One bit of information that I have firsthand knowledge of is that the community redevelopment agency (“CRA”) in this small town provided some necessary funding to keep the project on track. I also know that in anticipation of the upcoming development, the town with the assistance of a brilliant young lawyer developed an infill affordable housing program to provide downpayment assistance to home buyers to help redevelop an area seeking economic growth opportunities. Why am I discussing this? Because I am convinced that Apopka’s CRA is poised to bring equal and greater economic opportunities to the areas within its CRA boundaries, specifically south of 441 and along Central Avenue, if it can realize that jobs and economic development changes attitudes.

In describing the purpose and use of CRA funds, I can use technical and legal terms that even confuse most elected officials and even some members of CRA Boards who are charged with overseeing the agency and the use of its funds. But, in short, CRA’s are statutorily created agencies that were established to address “slum” and “blighted” areas within defined boundaries of a municipality. In some rare cases, the CRA boundaries encompass the whole municipality; but in other areas, such as Apopka, the CRA boundaries encompass areas that have been largely underserved and would benefit from redevelopment efforts. For fear that I may be giving an over-simplified view of CRA’s, I believe that CRA funds best serve a community when the communities needs are evaluated, keeping in mind that the primary intent of such funds is to address slum and blighted areas. Interestingly, in laying out workable programs for CRA’s to prevent the spread of slum and blighted areas, the law dictates that there should be development of affordable housing programs, as well as the implementation of community policing innovations.

In taking an unprecedented approach to address an issue that is reaching epidemic proportions — violent crimes — a plan has been developed by the Apopka Task Force on Violence and it is seeking funds to help reduce violence while increasing economic opportunities to change attitudes. The reality is that in order for this plan to work effectively, funds are needed from state, local and possibly federal sources. With Apopka, my sincere hope is that instead of finding excuses to not work together, efforts will be made to find ways to breathe life into a plan that seeks to use economic development as a part of the solution to help reduce violence in the community, while promoting business and economic growth — in my humble opinion.

 Greg Jackson is a past Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.

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17 Comments

  1. Lydia Mosten

    My, Apopka is on the map! The problem will be that the Mayor has his own ideas of what should happen in this town. The Mayor has made it very clear that he is on a mission to turn Apopka into Joe’s Florida. This selfishness will eventually open up the eyes of all, look at the Nov election, it represented a time when the people stood up and stated we are no longer taking crap from politicos. The Mayor is bad for Apopka.

    Reply
  2. Mama Mia

    Lydia, you think the Nov. election represents a time that people stood up and stated we are no longer taking crap from politicos…..how can you come to that conclusion, since the election was hacked by the Russians and was not recounted in each and every state????????????????? The citizens don’t know the truth about the Nov. 8 national election. Anyway, Hillary got the majority of the votes, based on what was counted, as was reported. Putin is the one that won the election!!!!

    Reply
  3. Susan Bowman

    I moved to Apopka in 1987 with my family from Coral Springs, Fl. My two son’s graduated from Apopka High School, since then they both are raising their families in Apopka . The City has come along way from a little country town to what it is today in the right direction. I feel the Mayor has his best interest in the city, bringing in more businesses. Apopka is a wonderful city to raise your family.

    Reply
  4. A.Centen

    Mama Mia I agree with Lydia and how can you come to that conclusion that Nov.election was hacked… by reading fake news?? Our election system that has been used to elect our presidents without failing for hundreds of years concluded that Donald Trump is the elect president. That has proven that voters decided to think out of the box and no longer take crap from the same politicos.

    Reply
  5. Mama Mia

    A. Centen, you think? You seriously don’t believe the allegations that our elections were hacked? Believe what you want, but there is evidence that it did happen and Russia was responsible because Putin was trying to help Trump get elected. Trump is even is on audio and video calling for the Russians to hack into our system….(treason)…. Of course hardly any of the Republicans in power want to open up an investigation. They prefer to forget and let’s move on because it benefited their party. Also the FBI did a number on Hillary (Comey) and now that Trump is in there, he talks about investigating Comey but the truth is he was so glad that Comey did what he did, as it helped him get elected (if he did win) and I doubt that he did win with the hacking……….now as to standing up to crap from politicos, Trump’s administration first order of business was try to gut the ethics commission, and now plans to leave a vacancy in the intelligence commission……nice. Really nice. Wait for the stuff that affects the average citizen……you will see plenty of crap from that politician and his crappy cronies!!!! But believe what you want, and vote however you want……votes of the people don’t count anyway, in the national election. I hope honestly that our democracy can survive and that Trump doesn’t throw our long- standing allies away and become close allies with the likes of Putin’s Russia, and other Communist countries……now we know why Trump said the election was rigged before the votes were cast….he knew it was rigged all along, for him!!!!

    Reply
  6. Mama Mia

    As for a positive note, things are looking up in Apopka now. We are now getting a nice new sidewalk along the woods along Maine St. that leads to Apopka High School and joins Martin St. The Apopka High has leveled the fenced in area in front of the school that was piled up in dirt and grown up with weeds at the front of the school, and it looks nice now. Lake Avenue Park grant has been granted and the city is putting up their share of the money to improve the park with new playground equipment, new grass, an irrigation system, benches, new picnic tables, and I believe a covered pavilion, plus the soil will be tested to insure that the ground is free from toxic chemicals where children will play. This will be coming soon. Also I drove by Dream Lake Park today and they are beginning some work of digging out some of the cattails that have been cogging up the lake frontage…..so I am a happy camper……wish I could say something positive about the national scene, but all I can do is hold my nose and not gag when that irrational irresponsible orange man comes on tv……..

    Reply
  7. Mama Mia

    How should Apopka spend some of its CRA budget money? Let’s heavily sow some wildflowers along the roadways in and out of town along the shoulders and medians. Then we will have beauty to look at and not have to pay out so much for mowing to the employees and inmates. Let’s get with the wildflower groups and hope they will help us with the project as to knowing what type of wildflowers would be easy to grow and successful and maybe they could help with the seeds or where to obtain them. We used to have state specialty tags that were for wildflowers and they were selling well, but I think Gov. Rick Scott had them axed, at least that is what I heard. I wonder what the governor has against wildflowers? Part of the money paid out for the tags went to promoting wildflowers. Maybe there is still some cash available?

    Reply
  8. Mama Mia

    We could really use some upscale painted murals. Jazz up the downtown area. Nice ones, not those awful graffiti type ones I see east of Orange Av. in Orlando out on Colonial Drive…..no, no, no. Classy, not trashy ones.

    Reply
  9. Mama Mia

    I don’t know why more benches are not placed downtown, along with planters with flowers and plants along the sidewalks of the business sections? More lighting along North Park as it changes into Rock Springs Road still needed too. Still waiting on the Welcome to Apopka new signs………..weren’t they to light up too?

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  10. Mama Mia

    Vladimir, Hillary no more deserves to be in prison than” the orange man” deserves to be in the White House. Have you been hittin the Russian vodka cocktails too frequently again? Should you not be training some future KGB enforcers or attending Russian ballet company performances, tweeting your bro-crush puppet, or something????……you GET A LIFE VLADIMIR.

    Reply
  11. Mama Mia

    Let’s spend some CRA money on replacing the bridge and docks at Dream Lake Park, and building them out of weather resistant materials such as metal or resin type lumber that won’t rot, and put a fountain out in the middle of Dream Lake to help the lake quality and fish. Let’s get another eagle scout project going and build some purple martin bird condos high upon tall metal poles to place across the lake frontage to help keep the mosquitoes controlled, and a drinking water fountain, new picnic tables, benches, restrooms, and new sprucing up.

    Reply
  12. Mama Mia

    Let’s get the SJWM people to agree and let’s plant some wildflowers along the Wildlife Drive Loop along Lake Apopka North Shore…..would look great with the bird photography.

    Reply
  13. Vladimir

    mama-pretty evident who needs to get a life, you actually argue with yourself on these opinion sites which explains your state of no-mind:)

    Reply
  14. Mama Mia

    Vladimir, if I were you, I would go seek a legal last name change……who wants to be referred to as Mr. ( what rimes with tootin)?????……LOL!!!

    Reply
  15. Dat Poe

    After researching a bit about the CRA budget along with other funding that will be used to spring board business and economic growth it appears to be a good opportunity.

    Reply

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