BY JAMES HARPER
Daytona Beach Zone 6’s commissioner is calling for the demolition of abandoned and neglected buildings in the area she serves.
Commissioner Paula Reed brought her concerns before the Midtown Area Redevelopment Board this week as it elected Bishop Martin Tooley as the new chairman. Tooley replaces outgoing chair Hemis Ivey.
Reed recently toured the Midtown area of the city, which has a heavy Black population, with Daytona Beach Redevelopment Director Reed Berger and Charles Bryant. She called what she witnessed “deplorable.
Boarded up too long
Elected last November to her first term as the Zone 6 commissioner, Reed told the Midtown board members she wants to do more to help the area be successful to attract more businesses and residents.
“This is ridiculous. So many places are boarded up and are left boarded up for so long. We need to get some teeth (in our code enforcement policies) and hold the property owners accountable,” Reed remarked.
Reed said if the owners of the properties are not going to live in the structures “or keep them up (to code), then tear them down.”
She asked: “How can we attract businesses, how can we attract families to move into Midtown if it looks the way that it looks?’’
Tooley takes charge
Reed commended board members for the job they have done so far, including the new Midtown Master Plan. But she also reminded them that they are her “eyes and ears.’’
“I depend on you. Midtown is in my zone. Together we can make a difference,” she added.
Before Reed spoke, the board elected Tooley of Amazing Grace Ministries as the new chairman.
Tooley, who has been on the board a little over a year, set the tone when he asked Berger why were there no request forms visible at the meeting for the public to speak after items were discussed. He also inquired about the lack of request forms for the public to comment at the end of the meeting as he has seen at other city board meetings.
Berger said Midtown has always operated this way but said at the next meeting request forms for the public to speak would be available.
“My heart is in midtown. I was born and raised in Midtown. I live in the house I was born in. I am looking forward to a productive year,” Tooley said, also noting that he was pleased how his first meeting ran as chair.
“Thanks for keeping everything germane to topics we dealt with. Sometimes we run down bunny trail,” Tooley said with a chuckle.
Ivey opens meeting
Tooley was the only name put up for nomination for chair, with only board members Pat Heard and Dr. Irma Jamison voting against him.
Heard, the vice chair of the group, oversaw the election of Tooley after Ivey was asked to step down from the podium because his extended time as chair was over.
Assistant City Attorney Ben Gross informed the board that as a courtesy it was OK for Ivey to open the meeting, but because his term was expired he could not conduct the election of a new chairperson.
Gross assured Ivey it was not a slight on him but technically he was no longer a member of the board.
Ivey’s term on the board officially ended in December. It was voted by the board to extend his term three months until someone was chosen by the city commission to fill his slot as a board member.
Praise for Ivey
On Jan. 8, Ivey was named chairman of the panel again, city records show.
Ivey was only given a three-months extension on the board, not a reappointment because a “reassessment” was being done on the Midtown Master Plan. Ivey was familiar with both the reassessment and the company that was doing it.
Reed presented Ivey with an award of appreciation from the city.
Ivey said though he will no longer be serving on the board he still planned on being active and vocal in the community especially on his radio show which airs every Monday at noon on WPUL-AM 1590.
In addition to receiving praise from Commissioner Reed, board member Heard thanked Ivey.
“Thank you for the time and service you have given to this board. I hope you are a positive spokesperson for the Midtown area,” she added.
The Midtown Area Redevelopment board meets at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month at City Hall in the commission chambers.