3 East Winter Garden women join CRA Advisory Board
Friday, November 12, 2021
Newly appointed CRA Advisory Board members Chloe Johnson-Brunson (left) and Jamie Holley of the One Winter Garden organization with board member Larry Cappelman.
Winter Garden’s Community Redevelopment Agency’s advisory board nominated three women — Jamie Holley, Chloe Johnson-Brunson and Sharee Villard Hodge — from East Winter Garden to fill the vacancies on the board at Thursday’s city commission meeting.
Holley and Johnson-Brunson are president and vice-president, respectively, of the One Winter Garden organization. Hodge is the founder of the parenting mentoring program Healthy Action Positive Parenting Initiative, based at the Impact Center in East Winter Garden.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the nominations. The room erupted in applause.
CRA Advisory Board member Larry Cappelman told the commission that the board had received 31 applications for its three vacancies. Since the next phase of the CRA will focus on East Winter Garden, the advisory board wanted those spots filled by people who lived, worked or owned property in the historically Black neighborhood.
"We had lengthy discussions about how best to fill these three open positions, and we gave preference to people who lived in East Winter Garden, thinking that the input from them during this stage of the East Winter Garden plan would be very critical,” Cappelman said.
“As District 3 Commissioner, they have my full support. I think they’ll work well together. It’s fantastic,” said Mark Maciel just before the vote.
Established in 1992, Winter Garden’s CRA is funded through tax increment financing. The first year establishes the baseline tax. As property taxes increase, the difference with the baseline tax funds the CRA with the money to be used for specific projects within a designated area. Winter Garden utilized the CRA to redevelop its downtown. Pending the green light from Orange County, the CRA, which will otherwise sunset in 2023, will be extended until 2033. An estimated $15 million is earmarked for affordable housing, businesses and other projects to revitalize East Winter Garden.
After the meeting, Cappelman warmly welcomed Holley and Johnson to the board.
“It’s a different challenge than downtown Winter Garden,” he said. “It’s a different community. It’s a different people. We may need to approach it differently, and we need insight. You guys can help us. So welcome aboard.”
Both women were jubilant about their appointments.
“It feels amazing,” said Johnson-Brunson, who said she wanted to focus on “unity.”
“Just bringing unity to the community, seeing no color, no age, being able to be in East Winter Garden and feel like you haven’t left downtown,” she said. “Basically just putting love and unity into the community.”
Holley said she was “honored” by the appointment. “I’m coming in with an open mind. I’m willing and ready to find out what the community needs from us versus what the CRA needs from us so we can partnership together. The first goal is getting the community involved. Once the community is involved, then we’ll have a better outcome. It’s been a long time coming.”