Good News #1
NEPNA provided as many opportunities as possible for our neighbors to participate in the Traffic Circulation Plan development process through our communication efforts. One primary goal of NEPNA has been to expand our ability to communicate with our neighbors so that everyone is as informed as possible. Considering our limited budget and resources (and the fact that NEPNA Leadership have jobs and families …), we’ve made every attempt to not only communicate that Northeast Park has an organization that advocates for our neighbors, but also that we were developing a plan to increase the safety of pedestrians in our neighborhood. Consider some of the efforts NEPNA and the city have made:
- Sent neighborhood wide postcards each of the past two years announcing the Traffic Circulation Plan meetings;
- Sent one neighborhood wide mailing announcing all NEPNA meeting dates and the NEPNA website;
- Advertised all of our meetings (including the two Traffic Circulation Plan meetings) in the St. Pete Times and by yard signs throughout the neighborhood;
- Provided a five-part series of blog posts providing rationale and details about the Plan;
- Published all of our meeting minutes on our website – something that most other neighborhoods don’t do;
- Hosted a large party the past two years to increase membership and awareness of NEPNA; and
- Provided contact email addresses and phones numbers of all NEPNA Leadership for additional questions.
Communication is a two-way street, and many were not able or chose not to participate in the development of the Plan. Those that did participate worked with the city and NEPNA to refine the plan and ask questions over the nearly two-year period. And everyone, regardless of their level of participation, ultimately had a chance to vote through the city’s ballot process. So that’s all positive.
Bad News #1
The ballot measure did not pass.
There were some very legitimate concerns over some of the specifics of the Plan – some of which we could not adequately address in the two-week period between ballot distribution and the July 12th due date. Thank you to all the neighbors that expressed their concerns constructively and in consideration of the Plan being developed with all the right intentions (to enhance pedestrian safety) by a group of your neighbors that volunteered their free time on your behalf.
Most of the comments we received from those opposed to the Plan concerned funding and the notion that our neighbors would be charged a special assessment (see Bad News item #2).
Bad News #2
NEPNA Leadership will not be able to pursue federal, state, county, and city funding and in-kind services that we had hoped to cover the costs of implementing the Plan. As was made clear during the process, the ballot vote was for the concept of the Plan only. If the Plan had passed and we were unsuccessful at obtaining funding, a second ballot would have been sent out to approve or reject a special assessment. Most construction projects are occurring at remarkably low costs these days with the current economic situation. If we could have procured grant funding, we would have likely been able to get more value for the money and kept some local companies working in our neighborhood.
Bad News #3
There was no back-up Plan B – so we are back to square one in figuring out how to address the situation where children, elderly, adults, dog-walkers, (everyone), share our streets with speeding cars. Suggestions are always welcomed on how to address what many of our neighbors have expressed as a serious concern for our neighborhood.
Good News #2
Thanks again for all those that participated in the process. It is rewarding to have been part of a process to try to make our neighborhood a safer place for pedestrians – and there are many to thank for providing input and assisting in our communication efforts. I wish we had been able to have the July 12th meeting, but family matters and work obligations (paying the bills) are always higher priorities over volunteer efforts …
- Darren Bishop