CORAL SPRINGS, FL - For the better part of 2020, the City of Coral Springs has experienced many challenges as we continued to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. From education and enforcement of Broward County Emergency Orders to increased oversight at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, our greatest priority continues to be the safety, health, and wellness of our residents – especially the most vulnerable.
Our Office of Emergency Management worked with the state to implement two free public testing sites in the city, with plans to add an additional test site in the coming weeks. To replenish our blood supply and receive free antibody testing, the city organized with One Blood to host monthly Blood Drives. Our next one is Friday, August 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While COVID-19 has been at the forefront, our operations continue and evolve so we can best serve the community. One important initiative was implementing software to better protect our schools, places of worship, and business. We hosted our first virtual press conference to announce the ALERT Software launch – technology that directly addresses the requirements of Alyssa’s Law. The Coral Springs Charter School and Chabad of Coral Springs are the first in the nation to apply the technology and to receive grant funding by Andrew Pollack’s School Safety Grant organization.
Over the last several months, we have hosted community meetings to better understand the needs of our residents and businesses. This included open dialogue with members of our police department to discuss police policies, procedures, and operations. As a result, we have launched a new series ‘Conversations with a Commissioner,’ featuring Commissioner Joshua Simmons, Chief Clyde Parry, and members of the Coral Springs Police Department. It is meant to engage and promote inclusivity in our community.
The Department of Budget & Strategy worked to prepare a balanced proposed budget for FY21, regardless of the financial shortfalls caused by the global pandemic. To inform residents about the budget process, how city services are funded, and how tax dollars are allocated, the department hosted a virtual one-hour Budget Academy. To further our efforts informing residents, we launched a new Community Performance Management Dashboard, which provides data analysis and outcomes for the city’s strategic priorities.
We recognize many families are dealing with job loss as a result of COVID-19. The city provided a Rental Assistance Program, which assisted 26 families and distributed $130,000 for three-months of rental assistance. In addition, the city received $502,000 in CARES Act funding, which will be distributed to qualifying families for rental assistance. In partnership with the Coral Springs Community Chest, we promoted the Give Where You Live campaign, to raise funds for financial assistance for residents in need. If you can donate, we appreciate your support of this program for families in need.
City staff has worked to provide local businesses with support and resources. This included the Coral Springs Back in Business Grant Program, which offered $250,000 in grants to small businesses to fund the cost of opening safely during the pandemic. And, the Connecting Local Businesses to Grants and Loans Program, which surpassed the $1 million mark in grant funding.
We were fortunate to avoid a direct impact from Hurricane Isaias. It was a good exercise in planning during a pandemic for city staff. We have always planned for hurricanes and other natural disasters but never had to do so during a global pandemic. I remind our residents we are in active Hurricane Season, please have your family plans in place ahead of a storm. Learn more here.
As we approach the 19th Anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, I am reminded how important it is to face adversity with optimism, compassion, and kindness. Our history should always serve as a reminder of lessons learned and progress made. When we reflect on the challenges faced this year, I am hopeful that the strength and unity of our community is remembered.
As a resident of Coral Springs, I am proud to live and work in a community that consistently goes the extra mile to serve its residents. I also admire and applaud the efforts of our community during these tough times. By us working together, our city is one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.
Frank Babinec is the Coral Springs City Manager.
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