A busy CRA brings funds into county

Martin County Urban Planner Edward Erfurt, normally soft-spoken and understated, became downright lively during a recent evening meeting of the Hobe Sound-Port Salerno Rotary Club. He talked to Rotarians and their spouses about the dozens of Community Development Department’s projects happening now in the seven Community Redevelopment Areas of Port Salerno, Hobe Sound, Golden Gate, Indiantown, Rio, Jensen Beach and Old Palm City.
The county staff of five people, including Erfurt, are working on or have completed 80 projects, he said, and through various grants and partnerships have brought in more than $1 million for those projects in the past year.

“In a down market,” he added, “we are investing in our communities.”

Posted throughout the Treehouse Restaurant at the Heritage Ridge Golf Club, site of Rotary’s regular weekly meetings, were displays showing both completed projects and those that still retain their spots on wish lists.

A finished project in Port Salerno is a rustic, wooden footbridge near the Port Salerno Civic Center, constructed of recycled planks from a demolished bridge. “The total cost was $25,” Erfurt said. “Not all projects are that inexpensive.”

Also completed, at a somewhat higher cost, is Port Salerno’s Manatee Pocket boardwalk, adding public boat slips and more than 700 feet of additional access to Port Salerno’s existing parks, waterfront businesses and activities. In the works now is construction of an attractive gateway and installation of artwork at the boardwalk entrance.

Another important Port Salerno initiative is the just-approved redesign of its mixed-use overlay, which added as much commercial space and eliminated as much residential area as possible based on public comment garnered through Neighborhood Advisory Committee meetings, workshops, and two Local Planning Agency meetings, Erfurt said

(The mixed-use overlay was approved during an August county commission meeting, with only Commissioner Sarah Heard, a Rocky Point resident, dissenting. Her objection was that the change could lead to more intense development along Anchor Avenue, which is one of only two evacuation routes for the area.)

Discussed at the August Port Salerno NAC meeting were plans also to extend the boardwalk, which would exit at Port Salerno Road, adding more connectivity to the boardwalk. NAC members also are considering a “Front Porch Project” in selected neighborhoods where homeowners may receive “community grants” from NAC funds to build a front porch or improve their front entrances. (The plan will be explored further during Port Salerno NAC’s meeting Sept. 7.)

Erfurt said construction was underway in Golden Gate to add “long-awaited and much-anticipated” water and sewer lines between A1A and Birch Avenue made possible by a Disaster Recovery grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (formerly Community Affairs). In addition to the installation of water and sewer, the project will “transform Bonita, Clayton and Delmar streets into complete streets” with the addition of sidewalks, on-street parking and landscaping.

The CRA also was recently awarded a state Commercial Revitalization grant of $700,000 to revamp the Railroad Avenue service corridor, which runs parallel to Dixie Highway in Golden Gate. The grant will provide funding for paving, landscaping, storm water management, and the installation of parking stalls.