Fight the blight

Dear Editor:

One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle that seems to be missing in the city’s economic redevelopment plan for South St. Petersburg is communication. That’s why as citizens we must take it upon ourselves to protect the people’s right to equal and equitable access to progress.

The onus is on our entire “village” to ensure that we connect neighbors to the tools and resources at their disposal to better their quality of life. Through my civic and community engagement, I’ve learned that some of the biggest problems are solved at the street, neighborhood, and local level. I’ve also learned that part of the reason South St. Petersburg has not reached its highest echelon of success is due in-part to a lack of funding for infrastructure upgrades.

After careful critique and review of community members concerns, the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) grant selection process has been revised to promote better transparency. Although we face a number of hurdles I’m optimistic that if we work together, we can properly allocate these funds to combat poverty in an area that is home to 14% of our city’s population.

The CRA Grant Program was created in 2015 as part of the City of St. Petersburg’s 30-year revitalization plan for South St. Pete designed to help boost private investment in commercial and multifamily residential development in South St. Petersburg. The CRA is generally located between Fourth St. and 49th St., from Second Ave. N. to 30th Ave. S.

The City will begin taking CRA grant applications on Monday, May 8, 2017, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2017. Applications must be delivered to the Planning and Economic Development Department, which is located on the Ninth floor of the Municipal Services Center at One Fourth Street North in Downtown St. Petersburg.

In an effort to help better educate the applicants and assist them in the grant application process, City Administration will be offering workshops in various locations and satellite office hours at either Enoch Davis Recreation Center or the Childs Park YMCA. The next workshop will be held on from 5:30 – 7 P.M. on May 11th at The Greenhouse (440 Second Ave N).

Investing in eliminating poverty within our community is just as important as fighting global warming or raising the minimum wage. That’s why we must unite to fight the blight in South St. Pete!

The first step to solving the issues related to economic revitalization begins with educating our community on how to be self-sustaining. One of the most scholarly humanitarians of our time, the late President Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

God bless,

Corey Givens Jr., South St. Pete CRA Advisory Committee Member

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