Your Turn published in the Tallahassee Democrat on 12/1/21.

When the Tallahassee Police Department vacates its current site on East Seventh Avenue, the city will have a unique opportunity to plan an entire publicly owned block adjacent to Lake Ella and in the heart of Midtown. 

Lake Ella, with its unique shops, inviting lakeside walk and old trees is a gem and a destination for people from all over the city. Midtown, bordering several in-town neighborhoods, is the focus of the Midtown Working Group which is currently drafting the outlines for a Midtown Master Plan. Such an opportunity to create a template for the future rarely comes our way. We must get it right.

The community has expressed its desire to keep Midtown a low rise, human scale area with a mix of vibrant businesses, residential and landscaped public spaces with good connectivity to other areas of town. The TPD site on Lake Ella can enrich and energize that sense of place and community. 

What do you envision for this premier piece of property? An expansion of green space with picnic pavilions overlooking Lake Ella? An annex of services offered at the Senior Center? Converting some police car parking to public parking to support existing businesses? Outdoor art? 

There’s room enough for all four; there are countless possibilities and combinations.  City leadership needs to invite the public to offer their suggestions for the Midtown Working Group to use in the master plan and before the city takes any action on the property.

What we don’t want is a quick sale to a developer resulting in more undistinguished high-end condos, strip commercial or another marijuana dispensary. 

Join us now in asking the city to commit to a public process for determining the best use of this pivotal block. How the city handles this “once in a lifetime” opportunity will set the tone for Midtown’s future and tell us a great deal about the city’s commitment to transparency and public involvement. 

With early public input, this block can be a shining example on which to continue our transformation into a beautiful, livable and vibrant Tallahassee.

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