By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
The city of Daytona Beach is set to repave Orange Avenue beginning in November.
The Orange Avenue Improvement Plan calls for redoing a 1.5-mile section of the busy corridor from Nova Road to Beach Street.
Improvements in the project include roadway resurfacing, traffic lights, better street lighting, underground utilities, sidewalks, flood mitigation and Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance.
"Improvements in that corridor are long overdue and greatly appreciated," Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said. "It has been a priority of the City Commission for quite some time. It is welcomed and we are excited and looking forward to it. The roads, the lighting and the sewage are greatly in need of this overhaul."
The cost of construction stands at $19.5 million with funds coming from federal, state, county and city entities and grants.
"This is a well overdue project for the city and Midtown," said Hemis Ivey, chairman of the Daytona Beach Midtown Redevelopment Board. "The only problem I have is the $1 million of funds for Midtown being withheld from us. We could do other things with that money. We are still looking forward to having Orange Avenue done."
Business leaders along Orange Avenue welcome the improvements.
"We appreciate it. It's very nice. I just hope that the community does a good job of keeping everything nice and clean. We work hard to keep our plaza clean," said George Mikhaeil, owner of Pearson's Grocery.
"Orange Avenue needs a lot more attention when it comes to lighting and road safety and sidewalks. I think it is a good thing and desperately needed," said Charles Thomas, owner of In The Beginning...Ethic & Fraternal Merchandise.
They also want to make sure things go smoothly and don't hamper their business.
"I hope that they take into consideration and be mindful of the small businesses," Mr. Thomas said. "It's already trying times economically and we don't need anything to hamper us. We definitely need better roads, sidewalks, lighting and more. I just hope it doesn't make traffic too bad for accessibility to the businesses on the street."
"They should improve the area. I hope lighting gets better," Mr. Mikheil said. "I spend a lot of money with FPL to keep my business lighted. It really helps. Many ladies walk. Keeping the lights on will help deter criminals. We also need to address the flooding issues in this area."
Residents also welcome the improvements but hope that they improve the lives of those in the community.
"It's a great thing and it is well overdue that they finally revitalize such an area of the city," resident Sam Shields said. "I have been here for seven years and I have seen money spent mostly elsewhere instead of the lower income parts of town. I just hope that the improvements that they make really tackle the biggest issue here which is poverty. I hope that they create jobs for those here in the city that needs it most."
"It's definitely needed. Orange Avenue is a terrible road and it really messes up people's cars. There needs to be new street lights and flooding improvements implemented. Also, they need to bring in jobs for residents, but make sure the residents in the community have top access to those jobs," said Antonio and Tanya Robinson.
Residents got to give their input on the project in a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 26, as well as the Midtown Redevelopment Plan, of which the project is part.