TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Think back to where you were in 1998, now 25 years ago. Back before smart phones, before social media, even before ride sharing services like Uber, that's when plans to invest in and grow Tallahassee's Southside were first formed. Now, more than 20 years later, things are starting to take shape in a new way.
On Wednesday, the city commission approved the final "action" phase of the 3-phase Southside Action Plan. The city now wants to create projects that the Southside community can "see" so they don't lose faith in the future.
"Over 20 some years of talking, meeting to meet, developing a plan, I'm optimistic we're moving in the right direction," said Stanley Sims, a community activist. He's talking about the Southside Action Plan, something the City of Tallahassee and Leon County are now taking to the next phase after years in the making.
An old version of the Southside Action Plan from the late 1990's was revamped into Phases 1 and 2 of the plan in 2021 and 2022. Over the last two years, those phases figured out what Southside community members want to improve quality of life.
- Public and private investment like more homes and businesses.
- More engaged community members who put their time and energy into making it a better place to live.
- And, government support to help bring change to the area.
In 2023, Mayor Pro-Tem, Dianne Williams-Cox, says Phase 3 is time for action.
"This is an evolution, things evolve, needs are ever-evolving, technology is changing, communities are forever changing and something Commissioner Richardson mentioned we got to make sure we keep an eye on not gentrifying our neighborhoods, our neighborhoods must remain in tact and we must improve them through this beautification, investment, and engagement so we don't move anyone out or price anyone out," said Cox.
Wednesday, city commissioners adopted the plan which will put Phase 3 into motion. This will roll out community-driven projects that can be done quickly, so the community can see the changes on a short-term scale. Things like more sidewalks, neighborhood clean-ups, and rehabilitation of homes and businesses.
"If businesses are there then there will be jobs there so we're looking forward to that and Blueprint projects of the 32 Blueprint projects that are happening within the next 5 years, 18 of them will be happening somewhere within that Southside Action Plan," added Cox.
Over $471 million of public projects are happening on the Southside since 2017. In Phase 3, the city will also work to attract more private development in the area.
Something Sims hopes will keep the momentum going, "it's not been so much talk and it has been some walk!"
The city plans to track the progress online as they go so the community can see the changes as they happen.