The Sarasota County Commission will discuss at 1:30 pm today the sale of surplus lands as part of a “budget reduction” process — including three public parcels adjacent to the Celery Fields.
Our entire community loves the Celery Fields bird sanctuary and recreation area. The shock that people felt earlier this year when they learned of a plan to put a heavy-industrial waste facility next to the Celery Fields ran deep.
Sarasota County 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.
Fast sales to industrial developers will doom higher prospects that hold greater economic promise as the planned Fruitville Initiative breaks ground. If the county pursues a quick sale, it abdicates its obligation as steward of public lands to plan rationally, intentionally and comprehensively for the long term.
More than 50 homeowners associations have endorsed an initiative called Fresh Start. It asks the county to hold off on the sale of these public lands temporarily while working in concert with the community to establish a consensus vision worthy of the economic and environmental interests of all.
We urge the board to pause, reflect, and act wisely.