BY JAMES HARPER
Two meetings will be taking place at the John H. Dickerson Center in Daytona Beach next week in which the public is urged to attend if they want to have a say in the overhaul of Orange Avenue and the implementation of the Midtown Master Plan.
The first meeting, on Feb 26, is at the invitation of the city of Daytona Beach and will deal with the Orange Avenue Improvement Program. The meeting will be in the Dickerson Center gym and will start at 6 p.m.
The city is seeking public comments and suggestions on design and safety features, including roadway resurfacing, traffic lanes and intersections, sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, lighting, underground utilities, traffic signalization and flood mitigation.
November start date
Construction on Orange Avenue should begin by November and be completed by the end of the year in 2015, said Daytona Beach City spokesperson Susan Cerbone.
The Daytona Times reported in January that elected officials awarded a $700,000 contract to local firm McKim & Creed.
Funding sources are being finalized for the $19.5 million reconstruction project of Orange Avenue from Nova Road to the Halifax River.
Cerbone said funding has been identified, including a $13,143,000 loan from the state and $1,660,000 from Volusia County.
The Florida Department of Transportation has committed a $3,047,000 grant and a signalization grant for $1,650,000.
In addition, $1 million in Midtown redevelopment funds from the city’s CRA (community redevelopment area) coffers is being held in reserve in case the project costs more than the $19.5 million.
Opposition from Ivey
Midtown Area Redevelopment Board Chairman Hemis Ivey is upset that the city is even considering using only their funds for Orange Avenue and no funds from other redevelopment boards.
“I don’t agree with the city manager withholding $1 million dollars of our CRA funds. The project should be paid for from city funds. If you take out a loan for a project, borrow enough money. Don’t utilize CRA funds when you are dealing with utilities from a county road with city utilities,” Ivey said.
In addition to being at the Orange Avenue meeting, Ivey said he will be at the meeting on Feb. 28 being organized by the NAACP to give the public an opportunity to ask about the Midtown Master Plan his board completed earlier this year and the city commissioners approved.
“As chairman I am willing to address all concerns of the NAACP and I want to work with President Slater in the future. We need not only the NAACP, but all citizens to get involved with making the master plan a reality,” said Ivey.
Slater said in an interview with the Daytona Times this week that “the community needs to be more involved in the entire process of the development of Midtown, not just one aspect of it.”
The Volusia County-Daytona Beach NAACP will host the community meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the John H. Dickerson Community Center, 308 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Invited guests include Mayor Derrick Henry as well as members of the Midtown Area Redevelopment Board.
“It is our hope that the Midtown Area Redevelopment Board will discuss specifics of its Master Plan, which deals with improvement of infrastructure and existing conditions such as vacant properties, occupied buildings, residential properties, historic landmarks, improvement of drainage systems to decrease flooding, pedestrian and public safety, as well as improved streetlights,” Slater said.
Park, fountains, garden
The master plan includes a town center square in Daytona Beach located at the intersection of International Speedway Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It will include shaded seating and gathering areas with fountains, public art and Black Heritage Trail destinations.
The plan calls for a new public park west of the existing Dickerson Community Center on existing Daytona Beach Housing Authority property.
Lincoln Street would be overhauled to include a landscaped greenway, storm water/drainage infrastructure and a landscaped bicycle/pedestrian path that will form part of the Black Heritage Trail. In addition, the Howard Thurman Gardens would be located across the street from the historic Howard Thurman House on Whitehall Street.
Members of the Midtown Redevelopment Area Board are hoping this is what the predominantly Black area of Daytona Beach known as Midtown will transform into over the next 50 years.
Foundation in place
The plan has created a foundation to revitalize the area, Daytona Beach Midtown Redevelopment Project Manager Charles Bryant said.
“We didn’t have anything in place before. We couldn’t get anything done. We always heard we didn’t have a plan. Now we have a blueprint where we want to go,” Bryant said.
Midtown is located in the geographic center of Daytona Beach bordered by U.S. 1 and Nova Road east to west and Shady Place to George Engram Boulevard south to north.
The plan identifies many challenges, including a deficit of business and homeownership and a decreased tax base in relation to other CRAs.
Florida A&M University students and staff designed the master plan with input from the Midtown board, residents and businesses.