CRA discusses grants and lighting on Baldwin

EVENT HELD on Baldwin Avenue. The CRA is exploring ways to improve lighting.

By RUBY KEARCE 

The DeFuniak Springs Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) Board met for its regular meeting on Wednesday, March 27. The CRA’s Executive Director Joshua Ervin started the meeting by announcing that after signing a new grant that morning, there has been a total of 11 grants awarded through the CRA’s Growth and Development Assistance (GDA) Program. Ervin then described one of the Residential Site and Building Improvement Grants within the GDA program that he recently awarded to Phillip and Ashley Brown in the amount of $5,000 for the repair of the roof on their home located in the historic district of Main Ave. 

The Browns were present at the March 27 meeting, seeking approval for additional funding, (up to $5,000) as part of the special consideration guidelines within that grant’s program. Ervin explained that as the Browns began work on the roof, they ran into a little more damage than anticipated, specifically around the porch. 

Phillip Brown then approached the board to explain that although it would be cheaper to do away with portions of the porch, he feels that it is important to keep the integrity of the home. Brown feels that given the layout of the home, the porch is a very important aspect, hence they are reaching out for additional funding. 

Board member Joe Johnson asked Brown how long the couple had owned the home. Brown said that they closed on the home near the end of September 2023, and have been working on it ever since. Brown explained that quotes for the roof replacement with some of the work being done on the porch were coming in higher than anticipated. 

Johnson asked what the Browns had done with the money previously awarded, with Ervin stepping in to clarify that the grant was in the form of reimbursement, with the money having been awarded not actually received. 

Johnson then asked if the couple planned on living in the home. Brown said that they plan to live in the home for the foreseeable future. A motion was then made to approve the Browns’ request for additional funding in the amount of $5,000. 

Ervin then transitioned the conversation to that of the poles needed to string the previously purchased string lights across Baldwin Ave. Ervin received some quotes from Florida Power and Light (FPL) with metal poles coming in at $940 each, being a total of $10,340 for 11 poles, which the city would install. Wooden poles came in at $875 each, being a total of $9,625 for 11 poles. FPL also included quotes for decorative light poles; this option would not use the already purchased string lights, the total cost being $14,922 with a monthly payment of $452, or FPL could replace the lights already installed on Baldwin for $50 per pole with a $89 per month charge. 

Board member Johnson asked how much was spent on the already purchased string lights. Ervin responded that he does not have the exact numbers in front of him but estimated it to be around $10,000. Johnson then requested for a member of Main Street to approach and give their opinion on the matter. Rachel Conort from Main Street approached the board to reiterate that Main Street has been working alongside the CRA for about a year now on bringing more light to Baldwin Ave. Conort added that Main Street would like to see not only visually appealing light, but also useful lights that succeed in illuminating the area better. Conort said that Main Street feels the metal poles are more visually appealing. 

There was a motion passed to purchase the metal poles, with Board member Johnson expressing his desire for this to be done quickly, asking how long this process would take. Johnson was informed that it would take up to six weeks for the poles to be delivered. Johnson asked for a delivery date to be brought to the April meeting.