Thursday, July 12, 2007

The TIRZ meeting on Monday, July 9th was very good. Following years of trying to get Historic Preservation Protection passed using the TIRZ (it was in the project plan), the plans have shifted to a City Ordinance, expected to pass in August. The pressure is off the TIRZ, and onto the Old Sixth Ward Neighborhood Association to get these protections passed, and it looks like we will have protections.

Knowing we will retain our historic character, the TIRZ has been working closely with engineers for implementation of historic street lights, historic brick pavers, historic corner monument street sign markers, and more. The historic style and expense would not have been appropriate without knowning what plans are in place for the future. Claude Anello, our TIRZ #13 Board Chair has been doing yeomans work with these engineers, planners, financing and bond negotiators, and with City Staff. Untold volunteer hours by Claude have gone into these projects to get them where they are, and move them on to the next steps. At the same time, he has been fighting SWPO (Sixth Ward Property Owners) who have been lobbying the Mayor and City Council - and anyone else who would listen - to disband the TIRZ, saying it was not needed, a waste of texpayer money, useless, etc. The TIRZ budget just passed Council, fortunately the City disagreed with SWPO.

Over the past few years, local developers have been buying up vacant land around the Old Sixth Ward to plan new communities and commercial areas. Claude, Steve Kirkland, Parke Patterson, and Jane Cahill who served before Claude, have kept an open conversation with many of them over the opportunities and options of working with the TIRZ. Claude is continuing that conversation with Frank Lui of Lovett Homes & Commercial Properties for the new development he is planning at the corner of Silver and Washington. Designed by RTKL, it will have similar features to the designs of the Post Midtown properties - where Farrago, Cyclone Anaya's, and other mixed retail/residential development has taken place.

These wonderful new developments for the neighborhood were announced at the TIRZ meeting Monday. Unfortunately, some people just don't get it and refuse to accept the desires of the majority of the neighborhood. During the public comments SWPO demanded Claude Anello's resignation. Here is the letter from the SWPO Board. I asked at the meeting if they were a 501c3 nonprofit organization or otherwise incorporated, and Maria Isabel replied no.

Many neighbors have been hesitant to work on restorations of properties until they know protections are in place. I know of two pending house sales that are waiting to be sure they are not spending money on a house and renovation, only to have a "McMansion" or "Miami Dream Home" be built next door. We work at different paces, and it is time to stop criticizing if someone is slow to renovate. It may be financial, elderly parents, desire to be a "do it yourselfer", or any number of things. Trying to lay shame and blame on an individual is not going to speed things up. Our houses are structurally VERY sound, they have lasted through numerous hurricanes. Cosmetic needs, and yes there are many, should not be equaled with structural deficiancies.

I don't want to have individuals or groups trying to shame their neighbors with emails, pictures, letters, displays, and accusations. It is unproductive to live in a society of blame, shame, and ridicule. We should be above that.

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