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Boynton may pay for study to look at downtown safety
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 21:27

By Attiyya Anthony, Sun Sentinel

5:56 p.m. EDT, July 7, 2014

Crime has been decreasing for five years in Boynton Beach's downtown, but the perception of criminal activity has remained the same, some officials say.

That's why the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency staff is suggesting that the board Tuesday approve a $19,000 safety assessment of the city's downtown.

The agency is working to change downtown's image from crime-ridden and stagnant to a walkable, vibrant community.

According to the agency's agenda, results from a stakeholder's survey taken by the city's former economic development manager, Scott Kline, revealed that safety concerns were a hindrance when people were considering bringing their business to Boynton.

According to the survey, business owners' perception of crime was the No. 1 threat to the city's future economic development.

Other issues include the lack of a vibrant downtown and access to arts, culture and entertainment, community attractiveness, good schools and stable leadership in the city.

But Mayor Jerry Taylor doesn't think that downtown safety is a priority.

"I'm not sure I want to spend [$19,000] on that," he said on Monday. "I have to hear what they have to say, but I don't have a problem walking around downtown. I think it's safe."

If approved, the agency will hire Ken Stapleton & Associates. Stapleton has over 20 years of experience in economic development in cities such as Hollywood, South Beach and Cleveland, Ohio.

The assessment would include an initial focus group, day and nighttime visits, evaluation of travel paths and parking and reviewing the city's plans for a transit-orientated district downtown.

Sharon Grcevic owns Boynton Realty in downtown Boynton. She said since she opened up shop in 2001, she has not had any safety issues.

"To this date, I have never had a problem with crime," she said. "I walk around the downtown area, sell all through the area and I never feel that there is anywhere that I cannot go."

 

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