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Pinellas Commission adopts plan for Lealman CRA, changes name

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas commissioners unanimously adopted a plan Tuesday that will serve as the framework for improvements in the area.

The approval was the final step before the county makes a major push to improve that unincorporated area. Lealman, one of the county’s poorest communities, is generally located between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park and between I-275 and Park Street. It is divided in half by Kenneth City.

The Lealman Community Redevelopment Area, the first in unincorporated Pinellas, is centered on lands to the east of Kenneth City.

At the same time, county commissioners changed one of the names of the area from the Lealman Community Redevelopment Agency to the Pinellas County Community Redevelopment Agency.

The area itself will continue to be known as the Lealman Community Redevelopment Area.

The change was made because state law allows only one agency, which can oversee multiple redevelopment areas. In this case, the county oversees the Lealman area and, if it creates more redevelopment areas, would also oversee those. The new name would avoid future confusion.

“I think this is a pretty exciting time,” Pinellas Commissioner Dave Eggers said. “I think this is a really powerful tool to help a community that needs help.”

Commissioner Charlie Justice agreed, saying, “Today is a monumental day for the people of Lealman.”

The plan commissioners approved is a 44-page document that sets out goals for redeveloping Lealman. Among those goals are to solve existing flooding problems and make other improvements, such as installing sidewalks and street lights.

Commissioners expect about $100,000 in tax money to help fund those improvements. The money would be available in January.

The funding would come from increased tax revenue derived from property value increases in the Lealman community redevelopment area. That increased tax revenue is earmarked for the Lealman CRA.

The next step, county staff members said, is to set some short-term goals. One project that has already begun is outreach to members of the business community in Lealman. Recreation improvements are scheduled for the Joe’s Creek Greenway Park.

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