Developing Community Capacity
COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION AND DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY IN AT-RISK COMMUNITIES
In an effort to address sustainability, the Community Council Board of the Linton Oaks and Gordon Manor subdivisions in Gainesville, Florida, approached the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners to address community revitalization.
The Community Council Board proposed a Non-Ad Valorem Assessment of $5.00 per housing unit to be levied on each property owner within the district. As a result, a resolution was passed by the Board of County Commissioners approving the assessment on property owners, and thereby establishing the Preservation and Enhancement District encompassing these SW Gainesville neighborhoods. Annually, the Non-Ad Valorem Assessment has accrued over $49,000.00 which has been reinvested in community revitalization.
At the inception of the program, funds were utilized to install new neighborhood signs and fencing. The Community Council was also able to contract with a lawn maintenance vendor to provide bi-weekly mowing of the right-of-ways and litter picker three times a week in both neighborhoods. These beautification efforts significantly improved these subdivisions and directly contributed to a rise in property values and sustainability of these neighborhoods.
Through a close partnership with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Preservation and Enhancement District saw a decrease in drug dealing and other drug related offences which plagued these neighborhoods for many years. This significant reduction in crime further enhanced the livability in the district, and residents were appreciative that their homes were now in a safer and healthier environment.
In subsequent years, the Community Council voted unanimously to pay the rent for a Safe Haven which provided a venue for community meetings and events, as well as a community-based site where several programs could be offered to adults and youth. In particular, an afterschool program was established through a partnership with the 4-H Club. This proved to be a very successful tool when implemented as part of Prevention & Intervention Programs to address juvenile delinquency issues, as well as to provide youth with a safe environment where they could engage in productive activities.
Youth Development is of particular significance and importance. We need to consider the fact that our youth today are indeed our leaders tomorrow, and we need to give them the best opportunities for growth. Positive influences and mentors play a significant part in this development. Youth organizations like the 4-H Club, the Boys and Girls Club and local Church Organizations, offer the kind of mentoring that at-risk youth need today. Establishing firm partnerships with these organizations is integral to the success of the Prevention and Intervention Programs.
Through the consistent hard work of community members who are also residents of the community they serve, the Community Council Board has been able to make significant strides in the Community Revitalization & Sustainability of the Preservation and Enhancement District.