Jacksonville, FL (June 12, 2019) –District 11 Council Member Danny Becton, at the invitation of the Baymeadows Community Council “BCC”, introduced a special initiative to local residents at a Baymeadows Town Hall meeting on a Wednesday evening that could ultimately transform the Baymeadows Old Golf Course communities back to their prime.
The Baymeadows Community Council hosted the town hall at FSCJ’s Deerwood Center on June 12th, and Councilman Becton presented a thorough and detailed plan that would help fix and enhance the neighborhood of the Old Baymeadows Golf Course, which he calls, the Baymeadows Community Improvement District “BCID”.
The BCID is a proposed initiative that Councilman Becton has been working on with the BCC for over 18 years. This past January, he began meeting with area property owners and stakeholders to help educate everyone on the benefits and details of the plan for legislation in hopes to be filed in the coming months. Councilman Becton said he wanted to again after a successful Town Hall of the summer last year, present the most recent developments of the initiative and to begin answering detailed questions of how the BCID will manage, improve and solve the issues which the district would be responsible.
“I have always promoted that it is extremely important to be completely transparent to the area residents regarding the Baymeadows Community Improvement District’s objective, costs and benefits as they have become known”, Councilman Becton explained. “The BCID idea is a unique solution to a problem that is complicated by the fact that we might be the first community in Jacksonville to use this method to solve these type issues within a private neighborhood environment.”
The town hall was scheduled from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and over 130 people were in attendance. By way of a prepared presentation, Councilman Becton highlighted the problems that are occurring and being addressed and how the previously developed Baymeadows Community Plan would be a guiding document to conceptualize the improvements and their outcomes.
“The Baymeadows community is unique in that it’s HOAs are outdated, have extremely poor coordination of infrastructure needs and cannot improve roadways, storm water, drainage and other common assets because most of these items are divided among multiple parties.” Councilman Becton stated. “The neighborhood has to have an overriding authority to tackle these overlapping issues and the BCID in its governance as a special taxing district can provide that structure. While it has been a long process to figure this out, only within the past 6 months or so has the pieces began to fall into place.”
The BCID, also referred to as a Dependent, Special Taxing District (DSTD) is a plan to address publicly used assets for failing infrastructure needs. Improvements that include enhanced roadways, repaired of storm water and drainage systems, sidewalks throughout the community, signage that is consistent and visually pleasing, and lighting on streets where security and safety become key assets which will protect and enhance property values and quality of life of current and future residents.
As a stakeholder and commercial property owner for many years, Councilman Becton has seen the decline in the area where the quality of life for residents has deteriorated due to the dysfunctional and independent nature of the associations. With all the new exciting development plans going on in and around the area, it would be disappointing that the residential communities did not take advantage of these changes and improve with them, lifting everyone’s boat.
“This can be transformational to area residents and businesses if these problems can be addressed but it will take innovative solutions and bold actions for these things to happen”, CM Becton acknowledged.
Councilman Becton’s presentation provided the audience with a brief history and summary of all the improvements that are taking place in and around the area. It provided a template of how the BCID would operate and included the benefits, the membership criteria, and the infrastructure, which is to be addressed. Most importantly, he discussed the revenue, the budget and how the assessment structure would look estimating projected costs for stakeholders.
“The Baymeadows area was once a vibrant golf course community where owner associations worked,” Councilman Becton explained. “Today, the golf course is gone and many of those associations do not have the resources, nor the economies of scale, to successfully keep up with maintenance demands much-less capital improvements.”
Councilman Becton explained the BCID concept by comparing its structure with a Community Development District “CDD” and Home Owner Association “HOA”. All these entities have elected boards with a responsibility to create a budget, plan capital improvements and manage the maintenance needs throughout their communities. In difference, CDDs & the DSTD can borrow money and acquire property. These type entities are over seen by the city’s local government body, Jacksonville City Council and their commissioners elected like public officials.
“It will be important that the people on this board are selected carefully and are invested in order for this to be extremely successful,” Councilman Becton said.
There are CDD communities throughout Jacksonville and District 11, such as Bartram Springs and Bartram Park that can be of reference for governance and effectiveness.
CDD’s were created under Florida Statue Chapter 190 and are typically put in place before a community is built as it would require approval of 100% of all residents to be created. Since the Baymeadows community is already developed and well established, a Dependent Special Taxing District under Florida Statue 189 is permissible and only required to be created by a vote of the local legislative body, the City Council.
“The Dependent Baymeadows Community Improvement District is not a foreign entity to our city,” Councilman Becton said. “Dependent Districts can be found in numerous instances where necessary capital maintenance and improvements affect multiple property owners who have a vested interest in some common asset. The ability to create a DSTD after the fact, with just council approval, allows communities to solve problems and accomplish projects, which might be impossible otherwise”.
Councilman Becton explains that the BCID is only for the selected communities that reside with then the BCID boundaries, and will not be successful if a neighborhood tries to opts out.
“It’s a All or Nothing situation,” Councilman Becton stated. “Every neighborhood within the boundaries has to be included or this does not work”.
As the meeting concluded, Councilman Becton’s original plan was to submit legislation in July upon the councils return. As for concerns that surfaced during the Town Hall, it’s apparent that further discussions, continued education and getting more buy-in is essential. With that anticipated to take more time, the legislation’s submission date is pending those objectives being accomplished.
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