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Leon County begins North Monroe Corridor revitalization efforts

Posted at 8:18 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 20:18:50-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Coming or going; local or visitor; chances are your commute in Tallahassee will involve North Monroe street.

For the last six months, a task force looked into pressing issues along the main road and what Leon County can do to bring it back to its former glory.

That area is back in the spotlight, following a Sunday morning shooting near Lake Ella that left one woman fighting for her life.

County Commissioner Rick Minor led the charge to revitalize the area.

"The North Monroe I-10 corridor is the number one gateway into Tallahassee. More people come into our community through that point than at any other point. And, most people, whether you live along the corridor or not would agree that we've seen North Monroe in decline over the last three or four years," said Commissioner Minor.

To address that decline, commissioners launched the North Monroe Corridor Task Force. A team focused on studying three main components of the four miles of North Monroe Street from Fred George Road to Tharpe Street: crime, homelessness, and general area upgrades.

Jo Laurie Penrose was one member tasked with looking into ways to improve the street.

"I'm just I'm saddened every day by what I see," said Penrose.

So, Penrose decided to take that sadness and turn it into action. A lifelong Tallahassee resident, she says she remembers when businesses thrived and North Monroe was more inviting.

"One of the reasons I wanted to be involved was right around the time that the pandemic started, I started seeing a lot of homeless people," she said. "Shortly after that maybe at the beginning of this year, I started seeing prostitutes on John Knox road."

In December, Leon commissioners approved a 65-page finding with recommendations to revitalize the street.

The county is bringing law enforcement, businesses, and people living in the area together to fight crime, with a big focus on human trafficking.

"We have more arrests in human trafficking along the I-10 North Monroe interchange than any other point in the county," he said. "So this new training will educate businesses and their employees and neighbors in the area to keep out an eye for the signs of human trafficking and then have the confidence to report it."

Now the county is also looking into more outreach programs for the growing homeless population.

"This is really the first step on a long-term project to improve North Monroe and make it something we can be proud of."

More meetings about the area will happen in the coming weeks. Until then, Commissioner Minor says you can contact him with any suggestions or concerns about the street.

"This is a long time, a long term process. North Monroe hasn't declined overnight. And we're not going to fix it overnight. It's going to take a sustained effort for us working with the task force members, with the citizens, with business owners, to reverse the trend and make it something we can be proud of," he said.

The Task Force also includes upgrades to the roads.

That means repaving, more sidewalks, and more landscaping along North Monroe Street.

The goal is to lead to more business development and even a potential welcome center once visitors get off of I-10 and enter the heart of Tallahassee.