I had the opportunity to visit several Main Street communities over the Memorial Day Weekend. My mom and I traveled to Cocoa, Titusville, Mims, Tavares, Mt. Dora, Ocala, and Micanopy. All the main streets utilized historical and ecological assets to improve their economic conditions. I’m attending the Florida Main Street Conference in Ocala in June. I hope to bring back additional best practices and put them to use fairly and consistently across the district.
However, there is so much every caring, engaged citizen can do right now from the comfort of their own vehicle. I recommend going out early on a Sunday morning so other drivers don’t run you over as you are viewing and reporting any deficiencies. My staff can view your concerns reported through the 311 app.
“Move Out” or Large Item Dumping
Why is it that certain properties annually have large amounts of household debris left all over the curb? That is easy to answer - a move out or eviction. Rental properties are much more prone to messy large item pick-up problems.
At first glance, I report large piles of debris to the 311 app. The sooner the items are reported to Solid Waste, the sooner the mess is removed from your corridor.
Why is it that certain vehicle owners park on sidewalks or in rights-of-way? Their lack of concern could mean the death of a pedestrian or cyclist. It has been recommended by our sector captain to report the safety concerns to 911. A deputy will come ask the owner to move the vehicle or have it towed. Safety is always the number one priority along any corridor.
Traffic Signals & Signage
If you ever see a traffic signal malfunctioning or a missing stop sign - report it to the 311 app. There is an entire section on the app dedicated to Traffic & Transportation Issues. These deficiencies include trees in danger of falling on a road. Drainage issues after the heavy rains could simply be due to a plugged drain. Report it. “Aprons”, the little asphalt strip to keep water moving down towards a drain or ditch needs to be unobstructed. They also need to be edged regularly to avoid crumbling. At a certain point, they need to be rebuilt. Report them. I did recently along Votaw Road.
Cracked sidewalks can be a danger to pedestrians and should also be reported. While Streetlighting is a bigger concern in the winter months, it should still be regularly reported directly to Duke Energy or through the 311 app. I remind concerned citizens that Duke Energy does not monitor or assess burned out lighting along corridors. When I first began as your commissioner, over half the lights were burned out on every main street in the district. This means to me that insufficient education had been disseminated throughout our district.
Neighborhoods & Housing
While it is true that front yards full of junk or grass over 18 inches can be reported through the 311 app, we prefer getting people engaged through our Neighborhood Leaders Program. We advocate that neighborhood walls and fences be kept in good condition, trees trimmed up and bushed trimmed down, white sidewalks clean to avoid slipping, and more. The positive side of winning the Corridor of the Year Contest means more infrastructure improvements, pole banners, benches, and more.
Finally, anything with traffic, parking, or infrastructure improvements should be reported to my office or 311 App. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. You have not because you ask not. Also, public employees are impressed and motivated by citizen volunteerism. They are not as enthused when they are repeatedly asked to do everything. So, what is the solution?
Your faithful reporting of deficiencies and the county’s quick response to repair the subject of your reports makes for a powerful partnership.
I have a program for engaged residents called Corridor Chiefs. These dear ones report deficiencies and pick-up trash. However, I do not have sufficient engaged chiefs on every street. So, when you drive down your street and wonder why it might not look as good as another, it might be due to the lack of an engaged citizen. Please consider either reporting problems to the 311 app or calling my office at 407.836.5850 to become a Corridor Chief.
I will be honoring and rewarding all the diligent Corridor Chiefs at my 4th Quarterly Leaders Meeting where we will also announce the winner of the 2022/2023 Corridor of the Year. The contest is between Apopka Blvd., Clarcona-Ocoee Rd., Eden Park Rd., and Votaw Rd.
It is empowering and encouraging to see our communities and corridors improve. All it takes is an engaged citizenry and a municipal government with sufficient dollars for proper maintenance.
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