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Lake City News

Today's Lake City Community Dev Block Grant Pub Hearing Misses Mandatory Notice Requirements

Public hearing canceled due to improper notice. Photo updated with canceled stamp. Photo by Lucho Alberto

LAKE CITY, FL – In its haste to ignore Lake City’s areas of blight, City Manager Joe Helfenberger scheduled a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) public hearing, which doesn't meet the minimum statutory notice requirements. Plus, with the stamp of approval of the City Council, he ignored the findings and recommendations of the CDBG Task Force.


This year's Lake City Community Block Grant (CDBG) application cycle has been incredibly messy.

On August 17, the North Central Florida Planning Council's Lauren Yeatter facilitated the City's first CDBG public hearing.

Ms. Yeatter reviewed the areas for which the City could apply: housing rehabilitation, public facilities, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development.

Ms. Yeatter explained the program's purposes: to undertake community development activities to arrest and reverse community decline and restore vitality.

Additionally, the CDBG program works to provide decent housing and a suitable living environment principally for low and moderate-income persons.

The national objectives of the CDBG program have been established for decades. The program was established to benefit low and moderate-income persons, eliminate slum and blight, and address urgent needs.

At least 70% of funds spent are supposed to benefit low and moderate-income persons, and at least 51% of low and moderate-income persons are to receive the benefit.

So far, the second public hearing has not been scheduled.

On August 28, a CDBG City Task Force meeting was held. Neither the meeting agenda, nor the meeting minutes, are posted on the City's meetings web page.

Mysteriously, on September 21, without any comment, the City held another CDBG first public hearing, generally a repeat of the first. This time the hearing was facilitated by Melisa Fox of Fred Fox Enterprises.

During this first public hearing, Ms. Fox announced that the CDBG Task Force recommended applying for a residential rehabilitation grant.

Rehab would remove blight and help those low and moderate-income people who could use help.

City Manager Helfenberger didn't like this recommendation. He announced that he wanted the money for Wilson Park, which, while technically in the Community Redevelopment Area, is not in a blighted area and does nothing to reduce the serious blight throughout the north end of Lake City, an area predominately of African American descent.

The Wilson Park area has already has invested a couple of million dollars in renovations. City Manager Helfenberger wants to apply for another $750,000 and use $150k of the grant as matching funds for a County Tourist Development Council Grant of the same amount.

None of the City Council members mentioned anything about blight and Councilwoman Moses thought getting more money for Wilson Park, which is basically completed, except for a bandshell on Lake DeSoto, was thrilled with the idea.

Now – Tonight’s Meeting

Scheduled for 6 pm this evening is the second public hearing for the CDBG.

Federal rules and the Florida Statutes require “an advertisement published in a local newspaper of general circulation at least five days and no more than 30 days prior to the day of the event for which the notice was placed. The calculation of the time period shall include the date of publication of the notice but not the day of the event.”

Lake City published the notice on Saturday, September 26, two days prior.

There is no announcement where the application can be reviewed; where the public can submit written comments; where the final copy of the application can be reviewed; or when the application will be submitted to DEO (Department of Economic Opportunity).


The lack of respect for timely access for the public to the business of Lake City continues.

Once again, it’s do-over time.

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