By: Jacqueline Miles
(Port St. Joe, FL) Saturday morning, community members and businesses assembled at the Community Center to strategize their moves in getting the infrastructure of redeveloping North Port St Joe in place. “We first wanted to bring in the businesses to show them a plan of what the new community would look like”, said Danny Bolden. Samples of buildings and locations in Pensacola and Columbus, Georgia were introduced to the crowd. “We want to blend in the historical look with the modern to give our community a sense of harmony.” He said.
North Port St Joe has been in disrepair since the early 70s. Due to the economy and vandalism of properties, the small community has taken a terrible hit. “At one time, this community was a thriving community,” said Bolden. “We have now formed a committee that now is bringing about a change to get other community members excited about the new beginnings of North Port St Joe. “That will mean more jobs, better housing, and more businesses.”
Pastor Chester F. Davis, of Philadelphia Primitive Baptist Church, is the president of the Redevelopment PAC for Port St Joe. “Phase I was to get the community involved and to introduce them to what redevelopment is all about and the meaning of redevelopment and how it works in the community. We also gave them ideas as to how to be partners and step up to the plate. This includes assisting the business owners with accounting and credit issues to get their business ready for growth,” Said Pastor Davis.
“Phase 2 is actually putting the plans to work i.e. funding; getting the funding/investors and completing the necessary plans (architectural) to begin the building. Phase 3 will be building our streets and sidewalks, installing drainage systems and constructing buildings. This is where we will be looking for investors or partners who will be willing to assist businesses, if necessary, or bring in business opportunities that they may interested in starting.”
“Many of the families that were at this workshop were families that owned businesses and had family members that had businesses on Martin Luther King Blvd at one time,” said Bolden. Focusing on that corridor of Martin Luther King Blvd was a great place to start because it was a great way to galvanize the positive energy that was in the room,” he said.
Co-facilitator of the event, Walter Miller stated “we are establishing the foundation or parameters about how we are going to work for North Port St Joe. We are looking at the current conditions to update the Master Plan for the development of Port St Joe.
Commissioner William Thurbay and Mayor Bo Patterson attended the workshop and both expressed their utmost commitment to helping the community in restoring the neighborhoods.
Commissioner Thurbay previously stated that he had friends that had grown up in the neighborhood and now are gone because there were no jobs available. He stated that he wanted to see the community thrive once again and bring back young people and see businesses grow.
Mayor Bo Patterson also wants to see North Port St Joe revitalized. He pledged his support to help with city funding in any way that may be possible.
“We are going to come up with a theme for North Port St Joe and Martin Luther Blvd that has a presentation of the historical and cultural relevance of the people who actually live in the community and provide a way to maintain our heritage,” said Bolden.
Plans are currently under way to schedule a third workshop for the community. For more information, call Danny Bolden (706)987-4120.