Downtown manager now on the job in Delray

Posted at 9:35 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 21:35:00-05

There is a new face making sure downtown Delray Beach looks good. The city created a downtown manager, and recently hired someone to fill the position.

It's part of a move to reinforce the city's Clean and Safe Program.

Jamael Stewart and his crew are out the door before most people are awake.  The first crews on the Clean and Safe team are hard at work by 4:30 in the morning.

The group is split in two. The police department handles safety. The city handles other issues.

The city side is made up of electricians, code enforcement officers, maintenance and sanitation workers. They focus on things like painting over graffiti, fixing light poles, collecting trash, or issuing code violations.

Their territory goes along Atlantic Avenue, from Interstate-95 to the beach, and one block north and south. 

"Downtown is really from 95 all the way to A1A, and we want it to look that way," explains Stewart, the new downtown manager.

This year, the Community Redevelopment Agency budgeted an extra $500,000 for the program. The money will go toward hiring the manager, a sanitation officer, a code enforcement officer, and a police sergeant, plus buying equipment.

The people in the city's unit used to come from different departments in the city. This year, they are all working under the Community Improvement Department, and the downtown manager is supervising it.

The idea is to streamline things, putting a point person in charge of the program. Stewart has plans to arrange his team into shifts so there is someone one the streets seven days a week and into the night, when downtown gets more crowded.

"In my role, I have to learn to see what everybody will see, I have to be able to attack issues before the arise," explains Stewart, who grew up in Delray Beach, but most recently worked in the education field.

Jan Holmsted used to work in the city. He says downtown has turned into a gem and the it's important to keep it polished.

"I think that's how they're going to maintain and keep this as popular as it is almost every day and night," he points out.

Stewart agrees. He takes a drive through downtown every morning. Thursday, he saw a pile of trash in the alley. He pulled over and threw it in a dumpster.

"I want the city to look beautiful," he says.

His goal is to focus on the areas west of Swinton Avenue first. He wants people to be wowed by the city as soon as they get off the interstate. He says he'll measure success by how different the city looks one year from now.