THE ISSUE: Beverly Hills Council forms plan to improve community.

OUR OPINION: County, citizens need to get loud to voice and show support.

Earlier this year, online site 24/7 Wall St. labeled Beverly Hills as one of the worst cities in the nation to live in, citing low household income, low property values and a lack of dining and recreation.

While those listed factors aren’t untrue, per se, they do not define the residential community by any means. Beverly Hills is a great place to live, and the people who live there know that — that’s why they so often stay — and fight for it.

After the site’s negative designation and the county’s closing of the Central Ridge Community Pool, residents have come together to try as best they can to get the community into better shape.

The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Board of County Commissioners and dedicated citizens, recently formed the Beverly Hills Area Council to draft a plan to reshape the community. That’s a much needed step towards some very necessary improvements.

If any neighborhood in Citrus County needs a makeover, Beverly Hills is it.

Developed in the 1960s as a retirement community, Beverly Hills has evolved and in 2019 is now a mix of close to 10,000 retirees and younger families (the highest population density in the county). At the end of the day, many living in the area don’t have disposable income to throw around, and the citizens need some help to make community improvements.

Beverly Hills lacks a proper infrastructure plan to keep it from deteriorating. The county maintains the basics, but anything more than that is just not funded. And, since it is not a designated city like Crystal River or Inverness, many additional funding mechanisms from the state are not available to make improvements, meaning it is up to either the citizens (who are within the top 10% of America’s poverty rate) or local government to make it better.

The council aims to tackle these hard-hitting dilemmas, but it is going to take extremely hard work and cooperation between citizens and government to amount to success.

Council members plan to draft a letter to county commissioners asking them to spend not more than $30,000 to help repair the Central Ridge pool (with remaining repair costs to be matched by local groups). They envision a town center at the site.

They also threw around the idea of extending the already planned sidewalk on Forest Ridge Boulevard (scheduled for construction in 2021) down West Lake Beverly Drive to Civic Circle at their last meeting. If a sidewalk is already forthcoming, council and commission should work together to plan and execute other improvements in that general area to make Beverly Hills more attractive. Pool reopening or not, the Central Ridge Community Park area needs a redesign to improve quality of life in Beverly Hills.

The Rotary Club of Central Citrus plans to host a town meeting on Nov. 21 to find out what the people of Beverly Hills want to see done to improve the community. If you live in Beverly Hills, show up and help your community be better (the Chronicle will publish details of the town hall meeting once they are known).

Citizens and government officials must unify to make this happen. It’s great to see the people of Beverly Hills come up with a vision. The county needs to back it and not turn a deaf ear to it.

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