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These are what I consider to be our most urgent issues :

LIVABILITY

We must protect the livability of our City neighborhoods.   Our unique neighborhoods are what attract people to live in St. Augustine because they are mixed in with the businesses and institutions of St. Augustine.  Right now the livability of those neighborhoods is being threatened by outside forces.  Their survival is a critical part of our future so that St. Augustine remains a town where people live and work and not just a tourist attraction. The enforcement of Short Term Rentals (STRs) is important to the livability of our neighborhoods.  Residents also want to be able to support a wide range of local downtown businesses.  I will work with all stakeholders to balance the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors.

Our city needs all three.


TRAFFIC CONGESTION & PARKING 

The city has a long-range parking and traffic plan, which I will continue to push forward and engage the public on.  It is designed to keep long term parking on the perimeters, so that downtown can have turnover parking for the needs of local businesses.  A fun efficient circulator system, along with bike and pedestrian friendly streets, will help keep visitors moving without so many cars in the core historic area.   Because downtown St. Augustine does not have the usual urban services of grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, doctor's offices and schools, those who live downtown need to be able to use their cars to access these amenities and other daily errands.   Eventually we hope to have a convenient circulator system that serves the residents and visitors from North City,  Anastasia Island, and West City.  


FLOODING & RESILIENCY

I will make sure that the City moves forward with the Army Corps of Engineers' three-year Back Bay Feasibility Study and that Jessica Beach, our Chief Resilience Officer, has the budget and support to carry forth the City’s long-range Resiliency Plan.  This should help greatly with our flooding problems and sea level rise.  I will be sure that residents and businesses are informed and engaged in this issue of critical importance to St Augustine’s future.  


AUTHENTIC HISTORY 

We must never forget that St. Augustine is not just a great vacation destination, but is the Nation’s Oldest City with over 450 years of layered history.  There is no other city in America with the amount of rich and varied history as St Augustine; from our early Native American settlements, our Spanish and British periods, the Seminole Wars, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, and up to the Civil Rights Movement. 

If we are not careful, we can Kill the Goose that laid the Golden Egg,” which will, in the long term, hurt businesses as well as residents.  If we lose our authenticity, we will lose what attracted people here for the 450th. We need to refocus on our living history experience, preservation department, archeology program and historic research programs. These are what make St. Augustine a world-class destination and not just a “Tourist and Foodie town.”  St. Augustine needs to return its focus to authenticity, if it wants to be a truly great historic city. We have an obligation to preserve that authentic history for future generations.                        

St. Augustine's  FUTURE depends on the authenticity of its PAST.  


A Voice for the People

In walking around and talking to people, I find that both residents and business people don't feel that their City Government listens to them or understands their concerns.  As past President of The Neighborhood Council of St. Augustine, one of my biggest goals was to increase communication between the resident and staff.  I will push for more workshops with City Staff on the issues that concern both businesses and residents, so that there is understanding of how the City works and accountability to the people who pay the City taxes.

I will also be fully engaged with development issues and have an open schedule to meet with people to hear their concerns before the CIty Commission meetings, so they will have more than just 3 minutes to express their opinions.  Active involvement in government is something I would encourage by having an open door to listen to YOUR concerns. 


Committee to Elect Melinda Rakoncay
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