City Commission retreat discusses public safety, airport, and economic development

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 15, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV -- The Tallahassee City Commission held its 2020 retreat Wednesday at the Tallahassee International Airport.

The retreat included a look back at 2019 look back at 2019, and what's to come in 2020.

Many City leaders and department heads attended the meeting.

Tallahassee International Airport

Commissioners also heard an update on the airport from Director of Aviation David Pollard.

The airport saw a 12.5% increase in 2019 December traffic over 2018 December traffic; it was at its highest level since 2007.

The International Passenger Processing Facility has moved into its design phase, and the airport is also working with rental car agencies on turnaround facilities.

Pollard said TLH faces challenges of aging infrastructure and site readiness.

Economic Development

Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder gave a presentation to Commissioners about economic development in Tallahassee.

Tedder said projections show about 40,000 to 50,000 people will move to the Tallahassee-Leon County area within the next 25 years.

There are currently 8,753 acres in Tallahassee under construction, including projects such as FAMU Way.

Other priorities include making land around the airport "Ready, Set, Go" for new business, a CRTPA-created bicycle-pedestrian master plan to be unveiled in the spring and the Orange Avenue-Meridian Road placemaking project.

During Commissioner comment, Mayor John Dailey discussed the lack of public restrooms downtown, and said he also hopes to create more primitive camping sites at parks for bike festivals.

Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox questioned why more developers are not coming to the Southside.

Tedder responded that many say they are concerned about the quality of the schools.

"Developers determine that quality!" said Williams-Cox. "They should come help!"

"It's glaring," said Commissioner Curtis Richardson of the lack of development in the area. "For some people, it's not happening. I couldn't sit here and not bring that point to live, because I don't see it."

Commissioner Elaine Bryant said she believes the City has to be intentional and offer incentives to get developers to the Southside.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said he wants to "dispel a rumor about Southside schools."

"I'm here," he said. "I'm a product of those schools."

He spoke about leveraging opportunities and seeing where public resources could be best utilized to help the area.

Commissioner Williams-Cox said she wants to focus on more low-income housing, helping families realize the American dream and becoming homeowners.

Public Safety

TPD Chief Lawrence Revell gave a presentation to commissioners about changes he's making at TPD.

He discussed the creation of the Citizens Advisory Committee and the partnership with the TEMPO program.

Chief Revell said TPD will be conducting interviews for the three Major positions currently vacant; he announced his three new deputy chiefs Wednesday.

During Commissioner comment, Commissioner Richardson suggested the Chief find a Citizens Advisory Committee participant from the Jewish community.

"Due to rising anti-Semitic incidents around the country," Richardson explained.

He also recommended participants from the Muslim community, the LGBTQ+ community, the Indian community, and the Asian community.

In discussion of the new public safety campus, Commissioner Matlow said that if the City does choose the Northwood Centre, he wants to see some kind of precinct at the Lake Bradford site.

"I want to commit to development on the Southside of the City," said Commissioner Matlow.

Mayor Dailey agreed, suggesting the possibility of multiple precincts.

A partnership with TPD would put TEMPO graduates in Community Service Officer roles, allowing them to work their way up to sworn officers. Chief Revell then hopes to utilize those new officers in their old neighborhoods, allowing them to serve as mentors to the youths in the area.

In addition to utilizing TEMPO graduates, the goal of the program would be to assist with recruitment and retention.

"We have to hire officers so that you have a full department so that you can properly move forward and move this community forward," said Mayor Dailey.

Mayor Dailey told Chief Revell he wanted the City to assist the Chief with whatever is needed for hiring more officers and getting 21st century technology assets.

"Let's get creative," said Mayor Dailey. "Violent crime is an issue we have to tackle."

Dr. Kimball Thomas discussed the work of the TEMPO program in Tallahassee.

After 27 months in operation, there have been 800 participants, with a 0% recidivism rate.

Dr. Thomas expects to have 1,000+ participants by June 2020.

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