Members of the Joint Community Redevelopment Agency CRA Advisory Committee and Lighting and Beautification MSTU discuss future plans. (Patty Brant/Immokalee Bulletin)
Dan Rosario of the casino/hotel and former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director made a few comments to the audience. As a newcomer several years ago, he said he learned a lot through his service to the Chamber of Commerce and the CRA, both of which contribute “tremendously” to the area. In his capacity with the casino, he noted that the facilities bring over a million people to Immokalee annually and recommends that the community take advantage of the opportunity for improved economic development. The casino wants to bring more money into the community and feels it’s “on the right track.” He said his hometown in New Jersey is also a farming community and it has evolved from just the farming aspect into poultry and food production with Progresso brand. He feels the business accelerator coming in can help Immokalee do the same. Christie Betancourt, Interim Operations Manager, reported that the 85 applicants for the CRA administrator position have been whittled down. Two of the remaining applicants are from Immokalee. There are two applications for $20,000 facade matching grants. Money for these grants has diminished so the CRA can only accommodate one each year now. It was brought to the group’s attention that sometimes the business owner would like to make improvements to the property they occupy, but the property owner will not agree. Efforts will be made to contact property owners and impress upon them the importance of a well maintained property. The Immokalee area is now eligible to receive Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) funding from the state. Money is available for Lake Trafford Road resurfacing, paved shoulders, curbing and bus ADA- improvements for the bus stop ADA in 2016-17 or ‘17-18. A $17,000 match is required. If it is funded this year, the project could start July 1. With the Immokalee’s eligibility for SCOP monies, look for more local priorities. The community could look for projects that are ready to go and match them up with appropriate grants. Lake Trafford Road improvements are extremely important because the road is a major collector road and also an evacuation route. New Market Road sidewalk construction is to begin in June. MSTU Project Manager James Sainvilus said Immokalee Main Street Improvement Project and Pedestrian Safety Study design is to begin this year with construction in 2019. A plan to add traffic lights on Main Street at Second and Third Streets is quite unpopular locally. Ms. Scott explained that there is a “flow” problem with 1,300 pedestrians crossing at Third street in just eight hours every day during the growing season. There was discussion about an overuse of signage on Main Street as well. Additional lighting for Main Street is also on the list, but MSTU Chair Cherryle Thomas said people don’t like all the lights on Main Street. FDOT’s Ms. Scott said that the Number 1 focus is on safety. Fred Thomas interjected that Immokalee does not need more lights on Main Street. It needs to hook up with Hendry County to take care of safety problems on SR 29 and SR 82E and deal with truck traffic. FDOT will partner with CRA to provide decorative street lights. SR 29 and Westclox is another area where safety is a big concern and discussion continues. Resident Claudette Williams complained about sidewalks and street paving in her neighborhood. She was particularly concerned about kids walking to area schools. Ms. Scott complimented residents on making some very good points, adding that there are short and long term goals and the group has a long way to go . The next meeting is planned for June 15 8:30 at a.m.
The Joint Community Redevelopment Agency CRA Advisory Committee and Lighting and Beautification MSTU meeting May 18 at Seminole Indian Casino event room Michelle Edwards Arnold, Director of Public Transit and Neighborhood Enhancement, was welcomed. Her office is concerned with the CAT bus system and administration of Municipal Services Taxing Units.