Sunday, November 26, 2017

Celery Fields at the tipping point

The Sarasota County Commission is holding a "Think Tank" discussion Tuesday Nov. 28th at which it will consider the sale of surplus lands as part of a "budget reduction" process presented by the new interim county administrator, Jonathan Lewis.

These surplus lands include three parcels near the Celery Fields which occasioned two highly controversial public hearings earlier this year (Restaurant Depot and James Gabbert's waste facility).

More than 50 homeowners associations near the Celery Fields area have signed on to an initiative known as Fresh Start. The idea is simple: hold off on the sale of these public lands temporarily; consult the community; go forward with a consensus vision that will serve the economic and environmental interests of all.

Forethought: Sarasota County now has a rare opportunity to shape and nurture a critical area to which many changes are coming. If the County sells to the first comer, it's choosing to act spasmodically and without forethought.

Gift horse: The Celery fields came about as an accidental stroke of great fortune. It’s a fabulous gift -- an amenity that we deeply love for all sorts of reasons. 

The shock people felt when they learned of a plan to put a heavy industrial waste facility there was palpable. The County can choose to take the rare value of this gift of nature and its place in people’s hearts into account when looking at future development here, or it may ignore all that. In the latter case, it abdicates its obligation as steward of public lands to plan rationally, intentionally, and comprehensively.

Pound Foolish: Actual fiscal responsibility goes beyond putting out fires. The County doesn't even have a fire. Some within the administration are 
considering quick sales of significant public lands to replenish a rainy day fund. Fast sales to industrial developers will doom higher prospects that hold economic promise, such as the planned Fruitville Initiative, soon to break ground:

Tipping Point

The Celery Fields Area is at a tipping point. This complex, changing landscape is rich in commercial, residential, recreational, ecological and -- with the Fruitville Initiative -- potent economic assets. These opportunities will gain in visibility and significance as the I-75 corridor develops. The County would be penny-wise, pound-foolish to do in haste what all will regret in years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Do not touch this beautiful part of Sarasota county