Martin County to reinstate CRA's, giving residents more say in projects that should be priorities

Posted at 12:04 AM, Dec 03, 2016

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. No one knows your neighborhood better than you. That’s why Martin County Commissioners are giving some residents a greater say in the future of their communities, what they should look like and what projects should get the green light.

Martin County Commissioners are in favor of bringing back independent Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs).


They are set to vote to rewrite the ordinance this month.


There are seven CRA districts in Martin County, including Jensen Beach, Rio, Golden Gate, Port Salerno, Hobe Sound, Indiantown and Old Palm City.


Typically, they are historic town centers and areas that also need revitalization.


“It is as grass roots as you get,” said Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith.


In 2012, Commissioners voted to scale back on the community involvement in the CRAs.


Typically residents and business owners appointed to Neighborhood Advisory Boards would have a greater say in how CRA funds are spent. Commissioners decided to take on that role.


“They were not a priority overall,” Smith said.


Smith explains now, commissioners are giving back more of that decision power to the community.


“We’ve re-prioritized some projects that were important to the community that were sort of set back a little bit,” Smith said.


Now, more than 20 projects will be given more attention, Smith says. Smith says there will also be a phase of talking to community representatives about updating the project list and seeing if current projects are still wanted by the community.


The CRAs have a budget of several million dollars per year to fund projects specifically for the CRAs without taking from the general budget.


Georgette Girard is a business owner and resident in Hobe Sound.


She has owned a quaint boutique, Chez Bim’s, in downtown Hobe Sound for several years. She has lived in Hobe Sound for decades and knows the pulse of the community.


She supports anything that gives residents more say in what projects are priorities in her neighborhood.


One project that will now be back on the agenda is the Bridge Road project. That would beautify the area around her store, add more on street parking and put power lines under ground.


She hopes that would ultimately lead more people to shop at her store.


“Anything that the town could do to bring the business closer to us and just to make it more appealing would be very good,” said Girard. 


Other projects now going back on the agenda include the second phase of the Mapp Road project in Old Palm City.


There are other projects on the CRA project list that include adding more sidewalks in various communities, improved infrastructure and beautification.