More people may be keeping a sober eye on the drunken Midtown crowd when the bars strike the last call.
A community policing pilot program is in the works between local law enforcement agencies and the Community Redevelopment Agency to promote public safety in the College Park area.
The agency met with the City Commission Thursday to update the community of its general progress and discuss which programs to prioritize until 2023, such as the pilot program and affordable housing.
Some local officials encouraged the CRA to look at partnerships with local organizations, such as the University Police Department.
One program from this partnership is the College Park Community Policing Pilot, Ori Baber, a CRA project manager, said.
This initiative would create Midtown Ambassadors to monitor the College Park area.
These people would be liaisons between the community and law enforcement agencies who patrol Midtown at strategic times, including 2 a.m., when the clubs close, Baber said.
“We want someone who’s there to see everything from a safety perspective,” Baber said.
The program, which is still in the planning stages, will pilot for three years, Baber said.
Mayor Lauren Poe suggested another partnership the CRA could make is with agencies like Habitat for Humanity and Gainesville Housing Authority to improve its current housing project called Heartwood. Poe said building affordable housing needs to be a priority.
“The point is to create places to go to, not through,” Poe said.
The Heartwood project, which began in October 2017, is a 34-home neighborhood near Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Baber said. A third of those homes will be affordable housing.
The organization’s goal is to give renewed life to neighborhoods like Pleasant Street and the Porters community, which have lost investments over the years, said Andrew Meeker, a CRA manager.
“We want to see people living, working and playing in the urban core,” Meeker said.
Other projects on the agenda include improving Depot Park and building the Heritage Trail.
The trail will be an art walk that celebrates the history of the Fifth Avenue and Pleasant Street neighborhoods and will begin at the A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center on Northwest Seventh Avenue, Meeker said.
Sandy Parker, a Gainesville resident since 1995, said the CRA’s biggest accomplishment was turning a contaminated railyard into Depot Park, where families spend time together and children play.
“It’s one of those things. Once it gets going, it’ll take time. Patience will pay off,” Parker, a 45-year-old accountant, said.