Citizens’ North Monroe Corridor Task Force to provide report to County Commission

The report includes recommendations on corridor improvements, ways to combat crime and human trafficking and addressing issues of homelessness.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 2:47 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Citizens’ North Monroe Corridor Task Force will provide its final report to the Leon County Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Task Force was appointed in June 2021, with 12 members representing the business sector, non-profits and citizen groups. The group held five “immersive sessions” and three follow-up meetings. The analysis of the road ran from Fred George Road to Tharpe Street.

The report includes recommendations on corridor improvements, ways to combat crime and human trafficking and addressing issues of homelessness.

The recommended corridor improvements include:

  • Provide Blueprint staff the Task Force’s Final Report for future consideration as part of the North Monroe Gateway Project
  • Evaluate a new strategic initiative for the County to explore operating a Welcome Center near I-10 (not specific to any interchange)
  • Direct staff to coordinate with the City and FDOT to schedule the necessary restriping and pavement markings along the North Monroe Corridor
  • Continue to encourage and support efforts by FDOT to install landscaping along the North Monroe Street corridor
  • Support FDOT’s request of StarMetro to slightly relocate the bus stop at the School of Math and Sciences on North Monroe Street to preserve sight distance for the school entrance/exit and upgrade the bus stop to include a bench and shelter
  • Encourage StarMetro to incorporate other North Monroe Street bus stops north of I-10 in its Capital Improvement Program for upgrades including shelters and benches
  • Direct staff to request FDOT to mitigate the gaps in continuous sidewalk access along North Monroe Street in support of local residents and businesses
  • Direct staff to work with the consultant selected for the Land Use Element Update to examine retail land uses and possible amendments to the Lake Protection Land Use Map along the North Monroe Street corridor

Task Force Member Marcus Thompkins was excited about the possibility of building new sidewalks to connect to existing ones.

“I’ve actually ran on that road before, and I’ve had to run on that dirt path,” Thompkins said.

County Commissioner Rick Minor pointed to the Welcome Center as another bright spot in the recommendations.

“North Monroe is the number one gateway in Tallahassee. So if we can have some display of some sort, welcoming people into our town, we think that’s a great idea,” Minor said. “The Welcome Center is a way to go one step further even, and have some sort of office that might be able to offer them everything that Tallahassee is about as they drive in.”

He said working with FDOT and the CRTPA will be essential.

“North Monroe is a state road. So we need to work with them on re-striping, pavement changes, filling in sidewalk improvements and those types of things, as well as taking a look at what types of safety improvements we can make, so that North Monroe is safer to drive,” Minor said.

The group also had recommendations on the subject of crime and human trafficking:

  • Direct staff to prepare a Proclamation in support of Human Trafficking Awareness Month (January) to be signed by the Chairman and to identify opportunities for County engagement next month
  • Continue to support the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center pilot program to educate and train business owners and residents to recognize and respond to human trafficking
  • Encourage the Human Services Street Outreach Team to participate in Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center’s human trafficking awareness training
  • Request the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation assess the compliance of public lodging establishments in Leon County for meeting state requirements for human trafficking awareness training and signage
  • Direct staff to identify tactics to help educate and inform citizens and businesses on the North Monroe Street corridor of the programs offered by local law enforcement agencies and encourage use of these programs to deter crime

Thompkins says human trafficking wasn’t an issue he was aware of before becoming part of the task force, but he was glad to get the chance to learn. He believes businesses and residents educating themselves could be a gamechanger.

“From your training and experience, you can save a life,” Thompkins said.

Minor has pointed to the issue for months.

“It’s a problem hiding in plain sight, and at North Monroe and I-10, we actually have more arrests on human trafficking there than in anywhere else in the County,” he said.

The Task Force discussed the issue of homelessness during meetings, and they had ideas for improvement for the area.

  • Continue to support the Street Outreach Teams efforts to provide housing to unsheltered individuals and families including emergency shelter, hotel vouchers, and diversion services
  • Direct staff to facilitate the creation of a one-page shareable resource guide for businesses and residents through coordination with Big Bend Continuum of Care, Big Bend 211, Salvation Army, and Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center
  • Consider funding the two Homelessness Outreach Street Team Deputies, as provided in a separate agenda item, to address homeless individuals that are disrupting businesses or trespassing and camping in neighborhoods

Thompkins says that issue in particular is near and dear to his heart.

“They can go out and help people in these distressing situations, but also to help business owners, because there can be trespassing and loitering,” he said. “They’re residents of the community as well, and I just kind of feel like if we can help them out, it really lays the groundwork to help whoever’s in need.”

According to the agenda item, Blueprint has a North Monroe Gateway project in the works, with $11.9 million of funding allocated between FY2028 to FY2032.

Minor is hoping that funding could be allocated sooner.

“Most people that you talk to in this County would agree that we’ve seen a marked decline in North Monroe over the last three or four years. Now is the time for action” he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the county will consider reallocating $491,000 from the county’s disbursement of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to the sheriff’s office for two “Homelessness Outreach Street Team” deputies. Those two deputies would connect people struggling with homelessness to available resources.

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