Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) have recently drawn increased attention following proposals in the Florida Legislature seeking to enact crippling limitations on these organizations. With CRAs under heavy scrutiny, it’s difficult to distinguish reality from the misinformation being spread.
Here’s the truth about CRAs:
- CRAs exist to serve the community. They are created to reinvigorate and breathe life into areas that have been blighted or neglected. CRAs don’t use any federal dollars but receive funding through a process called tax increment funding. And all revenue is reinvested into the area the CRA serves.
- CRAs are transparent. Public oversight is built into these organizations, including independent audits. There are five annual reports released by CRAs as required by law, and these reports disclose all CRA activities, finances and administration. In addition, board meetings are open to the public.
- CRAs are key components of job creation. In redeveloping neglected areas, CRAs help stimulate investment from major job-providers. Simple projects like streetscape renovations encourage redevelopment efforts from developers in decaying areas. They also provide incentives that spur small-business growth. This makes way for economic development that is sustained by the community.
- CRAs preserve community history. At the heart of redevelopment is reuse and preservation.
Restoring or repurposing historic areas adds to the community’s character and keeps its culture and history alive.
Lake Park’s CRA is implementing projects that will encourage economic growth and transform the lives of residents for the better. For example, streetscape improvements made along Park Avenue and 10th Street have greatly enhanced the area and are helping to bring in new businesses and customers.
The alleged isolated abuses of a few CRAs are not enough to warrant an attack on all existing organizations, but that is exactly what proposed measures in the House and Senate aim to do. Without CRAs, the progress that Lake Park and other communities have made will be severely affected.
CRAs provide the building blocks for a more stable, vibrant and safe community for all citizens. Simply put, redevelopment works. It is vital for Lake Park citizens to call on state lawmakers and urge them to protect our CRAs and, in turn, our future.
MICHAEL O’ROURKE, LAKE PARK
Editor’s note: Michael O’Rourke is the mayor of Lake Park and chairman of the Lake Park CRA.