Group Retains Attorney; Sends Letter to PC Over CRA Budget - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Group Retains Attorney; Sends Letter to Panama City Over CRA Budget

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It's been no secret the Glenwood Working Partnership in Panama City doesn't support how money has been spent in the Downtown North area of the CRA. Except now, they have in it writing by an attorney. One at the helm of the all of the concerns describes this letter as a warning to the city.

"In Glenwood if you have a hole in your roof the number one priority is fixing the hole in your roof and fixing the quality of the housing," said Alvin Peters. "Not building the sidewalk along the street."

The Glenwood Working Partnership has acted as an advisory board to the Downtown North CRA for years. The group recently retained an attorney who wrote a letter to the city expressing concern over funds spend in the Downtown North corridor. In the letter Mark Lipton outlines Florida law which describes a "blighted area" as one with deteriorating or deteriorated structures where economic distress or endangerment to life and or property exists.

Lipton continues "one can only ask why the money is not being used to directly improve blighted conditions existing in Glenwood rather than to benefit a handful of merchants."

"The real slum and blight in CRA North is not on Jenks Avenue," said Peters. "The real slum and blight is in Glenwood and that's been the fact of the matter for years and years and the CRA needs to address it."

One project which received good feedback from the Glenwood Community was the alleyway clean up project, which helped clean up the overgrowth in the neighborhoods through streets. But Peters argues the lions share of the 2013 budget went toward the sidewalks on Jenks.

"And the way to address blight in Glenwood and the way to do that in CRA North is not to do it with sidewalks," said Peters. "It's addressing the dyer housing needs that we have."

CRA Director William Whitson's response to the letter was to city manager Ken Hammon's.

In the letter he states "in closing, staff finds many of the allegations made by in the Lipton letter to be unfounded and based on incorrect assumptions."

"It's asking the city for information," said Peters. "And I think it's giving the city a fair warning that the money should be spent on eliminating slum and blight not by building a gateway to downtown."

In the next Fiscal year 2014 the CRA plans to spend over a half a million dollars on sidewalks down 9th street in Panama City. City attorney Nevin Zimmerman released a statement Monday which says "Lipton's letter asked for documentation outlining budget expenditures and that has been fulfilled. The CRA meets Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock in the morning at City Hall.

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