Citizens North Monroe task force members say they’re excited to get started

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Citizens North Monroe Task Force met for the first time Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The group looked at issues plaguing the major road, from crime, to litter. They also discussed how to bring more investment to the area.

The issue first came up in December of 2020 when Leon County Commission Chair Rick Minor raised concerns about the decline of North Monroe Street. The Commission voted to create the group in April.

He calls it the “gateway to Tallahassee,” and task force members agreed that it needs work.

Roger Rankin, the owner of Rankin Tacos Incorporated, is part of the group. His Rankin Tacos food truck opened in 2017, and in February of 2020, he opened a brick and mortar location on Allen Road, just off North Monroe.

Rankin says he chose that area because he lives nearby, and he believes his business fills a need.

“It would be nice if North Monroe looked nicer. Like some of the other parts of Tallahassee where they have trees in the medians, and that kind of stuff,” says Rankin.

Rankin says litter is a major problem in the area.

“I’ve even thought about just getting my employees and going out and picking up trash just on North Monroe Street,” said Rankin.

He believes another issue is safety.

“Late at night, this seems to not be a nice area to be around. And I’d like that to change, some of the crime to go down.”

Rankin says he hopes the area will become more family friendly; his business has live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, and he wants people to feel safe.

Another task force member is Robin Hassler Thompson, the Executive Director of the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center.

“If you look at that North Monroe corridor, you see many vulnerable people,” says Thompson. “Whether it’s homelessness, or people who are struggling with drugs, or other kinds of things that make them vulnerable to other people taking advantage of them.”

Her expertise is well suited to the spot; STAC helps vulnerable people, including survivors of human trafficking.

“In some of the hotels in some of those areas there have been reports of human trafficking and actual human trafficking arrests,” Thompson says.

STAC takes referral calls from the National Human Trafficking Hotline; that number is 888-373-7888.

The task force will meet several times in the coming months before presenting recommendations to the Leon County Commission in October of this year.

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