LARGO – Largo commissioners, first acting as elected officials and then as members of the community redevelopment agency board, created a new advisory board Feb. 2
The Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, or CRAAB, will advise commissioners on matters concerning the city’s community redevelopment districts. It will consist of members of Largo’s current Community Development Advisory Board and four additional members appointed to represent business and property owners as well as residents in the area.
The concept of the new board was first presented to the commission in January 2013 and discussed again in June, as part of an effort to boost the West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment District through private development initiatives. However, the board also will represent the Clearwater-Largo Road Community Redevelopment District.
The Community Development Advisory Board, or CDAB, provides the commissioners with advice and citizen oversight of the community development department. Its tasks include reviewing its annual budget, capital improvement projects and the administration of community development block grants and housing initiatives, among others.
The new board has similar goals, but will be focused on the redevelopment districts. Members will advise commissioners on:
• community redevelopment initiatives, incentive applications, plans and programs
• the district’s annual report, budget, and capital improvement projects
• providing information to and obtaining input from residents, business and property owners about the city’s programs to help establish new needs, plans and programs
Because the new board will be made up of the already-established advisory board, commissioners questioned whether it would be sufficiently represented by those within the redevelopment districts. Commissioner Woody Brown asked if the new board might eventually break away from CDAB and be represented by solely members vested in the businesses and homes in the downtown area, “once the CRAAB gets legs.”
City staff assured him that an independent board was the long-term goal, as the responsibilities and scope of CRAAB, as well as redevelopment districts themselves, grew.
Brown later apologized for the bad joke.
The four extra members of the new board must be appointed, a task that fell entirely to Mayor Pat Gerard, as per the Largo charter.
“The charter review commission didn’t look at the mayor appointing every person on every board?” she questioned.
City Attorney Alan Zimmet said that the committee did have “a full discussion” on the issue. However, the members did not recommend changes to how advisory board members were appointed.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t propose the changes,” Zimmet said.
Gerard suggested that the commission talk about the issue when they considered charter amendments.
“Because, let me tell you, that’s a lot of people,” she said.
Staff plans to schedule CRAAB’s first meeting in April, according to city documents. The meeting will consist of organizing the new board and presenting information about the districts.
Anyone who wishes to join the new board should contact the mayor’s office at 587-6702 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.