LIVE OAK — The third year was the charm for the City of Live Oak’s Community Redevelopment Agency’s housing initiative grant program.

At its Sept. 24 meeting, the CRA board approved its first housing initiative grant, a program that began in 2017-18.

The grant is for a 1,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath single-family home in the Azalea Park neighborhood.

The project is eligible for up to $12,000 in grant funding from the program which is designed to help new housing construction in the CRA district.

One of the conditions placed on the project is the addition of one more window on the rear of the house.

Board member Cindy Robinson and councilman Mark Stewart asked about the condition requiring an additional window with Stewart stating, “I just don’t see where that’s any of our business really.”

CRA Executive Director Gabrielle Redfern said the property owner, Don Edwards with Edwards Housing Solutions Inc., has agreed to the additional window and it will add to the appearance of the building and add to the architectural standards for the neighborhood.

“We want to insure that all … are of the highest quality and of the highest appearance,” she said. “It’s just a little blank.

“We are trying to elevate the CRA area as best as we can and these small architectural touches make a big difference in the appearance and overall feel of the community.”

Candy Carnival

Redfern also reminded the board that its annual Candy Carnival is just around the corner. In addition to the Live Oak Police Department, the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce, Jacobs and Walmart are helping to sponsor the event Oct. 31 from 6-9 p.m. at Festival Park in downtown Live Oak.

Jacobs, which provides the city’s public works services, is sponsoring a costume contest for the festival while Walmart is providing candy for the event, Redfern said.

“We do it to provide a safe place to trick-or-treat,” Redfern said about the event, adding public service announcements will be released on social media leading into the event to help alert the public as to the purpose of the Candy Carnival. “We also do it so that at 9 o’clock, people will take their children home and put them to bed so they can go to school the next day.”

Economic Development workshop

While the CRA board will not meet in October, Redfern invited the board members to attend an economic development workshop, which will be held Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. in the second floor of the old City Hall. The Chamber is partnering with the CRA to host the workshop, which is being called “Raise your economic awareness IQ.”

Redfern said the workshop is designed for bankers, realtors and business owners in the community but is open to the public. During the workshop, the economic incentives the city and CRA offer to businesses will be highlighted as well as the benefits of a Chamber membership.

Heritage Trail additions

The CRA has added five quilt block squares to the Heritage Trail addition that are nature themed. Two are near the trailhead by Helvenston St., while the other three sit opposite the rest area benches along the trail.

They aren’t the only pieces of art that Redfern and the CRA are considering adding to the trail. She asked the board for its consideration in potentially having an artist construct a sculpture for the southern edge of the trail where there currently is a roundabout with a grass area in the middle.

“The city currently does not have a piece of significant public sculptural art,” she said outside of the quilt square program.

“It would be a focal point and, hopefully, whatever you select would draw people to there.”

Robinson was in favor of the idea, adding she would like to possibly see it incorporate recycled materials, similar to a sculpture she saw in Mobile, Ala.

With the approval of the board, Redfern said she will issue a request for proposals to bring back to the board for it to decide what work of art to commission, if any.

Leadership appointed

The board also set its leadership for the next year with Burch unanimously re-appointed as chair with Stewart appointed vice chair, also unanimously.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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