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Delray agrees to hire economic development director


DELRAY BEACH — Delray Beach City Commissioners on Tuesday informally agreed to help pay for a new economic development director for the city, a job vacant since the departure of Francisco Perez-Azua.

The position has been jointly funded under an agreement between the city and the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Authority. City Attorney Brian Shutt is expected to present a reworked agreement for commissioners to approve during their June 21 meeting.

Commissioners said they wanted more say in the hiring of the new director, greater emphasis on developing business districts outside the downtown, particularly the Congress Avenue corridor and the so-called Four Corners at Atlantic Avenue and Military Trail, and better reporting. They also want the CRA to pick up the director’s pay until after October 1, when the new budget year begins.

The city has picked up about a quarter of the director’s salary, or between $20,000 and $25,000 a year, according to City Manager David Harden.

Mayor Woodie McDuffie, along with commissioners Angeleta Gray, Tom Carney and Fred Fetzer voiced strong support for the move. Commissioner Adam Frankel was a little more skeptical, however.

“We have a very difficult budget; I’m not sure the money spent has paid off,” Frankel said.

Gray said she favored spending the money for a director but wanted the commission to have a greater say in filling the position and wanted the new director to focus beyond the downtown.

Perez worked as an employee of the CRA, which is required to focus its efforts on the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods. The Congress Avenue corridor, which includes the vacant former headquarters for Office Depot, lies to the west of the district.

McDuffie said the new director needs to have a business background, and needs to be able to communicate to various interested parties within the city such as the chamber of commerce, as well as at the county and state level as well.

In other business, commissioners gave final reading to an ordinance setting up and regulating community gardens as a permitted use within residential neighborhoods. The ordinance bans the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, which one resident questioned.

Commissioners approved first reading of an ordinance banning skateboarding in the two city parking garages. Safety concerns were cited for the ordinance.

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JUNE 8, 2011 click to go home
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