Progressive Pediatrics Meeting Recap

From Facebook post by Linc Clay – 2/23/2017

Hello Friends,
Below is the email that was read at the City Commission meeting yesterday regarding the land use/rezoning application and the suggestion by the City for the consideration of a supportive living facility as a potential beneficial public use of part the parcel.

Good Evening All,
As you know, several of us met with Comm. Ziffer and some other folks this morning. The “other folks” were representatives and clients of Progressive Pediatric (www.progressivepediatric.org). Progressive Pediatric is developing several residential and non-residential facilities for adults with special needs across the state.

Comm. Ziffer hopes this first meeting is a preliminary step in exploring the possibility of siting a supportive living facility for about 60 to 80 special needs adult residents on a part of the parks parcel. The facility would be owned and operated by Progressive Pediatric. The parcel would remain in public ownership and would be offered via a long-term lease. The facility would be composed of residential, occupational therapy, vocational training, and light retail space. The retail space would be used for small businesses in which some of the residents would train and work, such as bakeries, coffee shops, and nail salons.

The target residents would primarily be adults who are somewhat independent, but still need help with day-to-day tasks and require light supervision. On-site supervision would be in place around the clock. In addition to residents, some non-residential clients would also be served. The existing Albert Trull buildings would remain, be improved, and re-purposed as communal facilities serving the residents and surrounding neighborhood. A new building, likely one or two stories, would be required for residential housing. Also possible are opportunities to create additional park amenities such as level play fields and community gardens that would benefit both the residents and the neighborhoods.

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While there would be challenges integrating this type of facility into any neighborhood, there are also advantages. Among these are the fact that these folks are not drivers so the traffic impact would be reduced relative to other possibilities, there will only be one entrance for security reasons, and since some of the residents have aversion to noise, the noise issue will have to be addressed. In addition, thanks to the efforts of Senate President Andy Gardner and others, Florida is leading the way for these programs and state funding may be available to improve facilities that would have broad benefit.

The intent of this kind of supportive living facility, and Myers Park as a potential location, is to integrate the residents into the community. It would allow neighbors to volunteer in teaching and helping the residents participate in society. Possible employment for the residents may be available within the many state offices a short walk away. Myers Park and Woodland Drives would be a natural area for the parents of the residents to move to in order to stay close to their special needs family.

Commissioner Ziffer hopes this is the start on a conversation with the neighborhood about this concept. He has scheduled a site visit for those of us present this morning so we all can get a better idea about the opportunities and challenges this idea presents.

Our belief is that this is how we should have started the conversation about this parcel. This land should be used for the benefit of the community. As we have been saying, this is not a NIMBY issue. Those of us at the meeting believe this may be a unique opportunity to do something truly useful and beneficial far greater than what either we or the City had envisioned.

Because of our experience in the past, we also believe that if we elect to continue this dialog to explore the possibilities of this concept, that early-on we will need to obtain a mediator or lawyer to make sure our interests and agreements are enforced.

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