By Fred Hamilton
RIVIERA BEACH – Much of government/ politics today is marked by vitriolic statements and finger pointing. However, something very different happened at the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency meeting Wednesday night
Community Development Officer Annetta Jenkins made a presentation to the Board on three projects for Riviera Beach Heights, the largest neighborhood in the community redevelopment area.
The CRA plans to build an organic community garden, install new sidewalks for most of the neighborhood and build a linear park in the neighborhood.
At first blush these might appear to be pretty routine projects. However, at the end of the presentation, residents spoke about how much they appreciated the staff for listening to them.
The fact that staff listened was an inspiration for residents to volunteer. Board member Bruce Guyton recognized Board Chair Cedric Thomas for pressing for funding to go to Riviera Beach Heights.
Guyton, who was not on the board at the time, said he was struck by the unanimity of the rest of the Board supporting the funding.
Executive Director Tony Brown said that the Board had supported his recommendations for $2 M in funding and the creation of a nonprofit to support the efforts had been unanimously supported by the board. The combined efforts of the elected officials staff and committed residents had resulted in the efforts being recognized for grants and awards on a national and international basis.
As a result of these humble beginnings, the staff has been asked to present at the statewide Community Redevelopment Agency conference to share their best practices for sustainable development with the rest of the state.
“Frankly, it was refreshing to see a community, residents, staff and elected officials coming together for the benefit of the community,” one attendee said after the meeting. “Perhaps the Riviera Beach board and staff should not go to the state wide conference. Perhaps we should pitch in and send them to Washington so our congress and President could learn about how to come together for the benefit of our country.”