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Pinellas County Commission to begin recruiting for Lealman CRA Committee

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Pinellas Board of County Commissioners is all set to establish an advisory committee for the recently recognized Lealman Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). The nine-member committee, expected to be established at the board’s Tuesday regular meeting, will provide advice and direction to the Lealman Community Redevelopment Agency.

The advisory committee will also assist county staff in the development and administration of the Lealman Redevelopment Plan, expected to be drafted sometime late this year or early 2016.

The board will most likely double as the Lealman Community Redevelopment Agency, after a public hearing.

Members of the advisory committee, according the board’s Tuesday agenda, “shall be civic minded volunteers with a desire to serve their community.” All nine members will be appointed and approved by the board. Members must either be residents, business owners, property owners, or other stakeholders from within the Lealman CRA. Their terms will be three years, with initial appointments staggered, so no more than three members’ terms expire at one time.

The primary responsibilities of the committee, as recorded in the board’s meeting agenda, are to:

  • Provide guidance and assistance in drafting the original Lealman Redevelopment Plan (plan);
  • Review and make recommendations on the original plan and any amendments to that plan;
  • Develop measures of success for the plan after its adoption;
  • Develop an annual work plan to implement the plan;
  • Review and accept each annual report on the plan;
  • Review Lealman neighborhood plans for consistency with the plan;
  • Recommend capital improvement and operating programs to the county administrator’s office;
  • Hold an open forum for public comment during each regularly scheduled meeting; and
  • And assist with any other function and duty assigned by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Initial committee appointments are expected to be brought before the Board for consideration and approval at its Sept. 10 meeting.

So far, Ray Neri, a long-time Lealman resident and president of the Lealman Community Association, is expected to be one. He’s already got plenty of ideas. One of the more poignant ones had to do with lending financial help, through the CRA’s eventual TIF money, to a volunteer group called “Adopt a Block,” who go door to door throughout Lealman every Saturday to offer assistance to anyone who may need it.   

“If someone needs food, appliances, electricity […] if they’re old and can’t mow their lawn, whatever it is, they [Adopt a Block] will do it,” said Neri, in a telephone interview.

The Lealman CRA, which includes virtually all of unincorporated Lealman, makes up an area recognized in 2013 by the Department of Health and Human Services as one of the five poorest areas in Pinellas County. Future increases in Lealman CRA property values will be set aside in order to support economic development projects within the area.

The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesay will be their only regular meeting in July. The county administrator is to present a newly proposed 2016 fiscal year budget. After it, the recruitment process for Lealman CRA Advisory Committee members will begin.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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