Ormond Beach's legacy should not be taken lightly.
By Barry du Moulin
At what point does a city or town reach a growth saturation point? Is it when first responders receive negative commentary for response times? Is it when traffic gridlock becomes a daily obstacle? Is it when your community loses its character and the very reason as to why you decided to settle is lost?
The buzzwords "Smart Growth" can have various meanings that can be orchestrated to fit the planners, engineers and developers; however, the end results in many cases is not always in the best interests of the community. We know growth does not pay for itself (tax referendums) and locally falls short in providing those economic achievements the developers so smoothly cover in a presentation.
One may need to redefine the term infrastructure when noting the recent residential developments now in progress, not only in Ormond Beach, but with our neighboring communities as well. Topics listing a host of present issues such as garbage collection and recycling; stormwater runoffs; septic systems; schools in regards to quality teachers and pay scales; hiring and retention of police, fire and EVAC are just a few items that need out-of-the-box thinking when you wish to grow roofs versus retaining or cultivating open spaces just because they are there. When we discuss “traffic calming” techniques, are we not already facing a problem? When widening of roads, such as removing the medians on Granada Boulevard, to ease the flow of traffic in the future will not calm traffic, but open it up further to speed then bottleneck downtown when vehicles pile up to head east for a day at the beach or to explore the variety of shops. I believe the whole effect would throw out of balance what is already leaning in the overload mode. Parking, pollution, noise — not the relaxing tone one thinks of when attempting to live the dream.
How do developers envision quality community growth with 55-and-over housing complexes or low-income housing projects? I can’t answer that without input from others, whether agreeing or disagreeing, that it benefits or hurts the future of our city, but it needs to be an open-detailed dialog, sooner rather than later.
There is still much in the way of undeveloped land that has large for sale signs on them looking to be sold and developed, some internally within the already congested parts of the city like Sterthaus Drive as well as on the outskirts near I-95; not to mention that it’s wetlands, yet there are many spaces that have been developed that remain unoccupied, why?
If the opportunity for redevelopment of a structure or blighted areas present themselves, our commissioners need to press the question: Can we do better than what was there prior? Can we market ourselves to acquire a business that not only benefits the surrounding location, but adds jobs that would attract younger minds that would be paid more than the usual minimal pay? A medical facility, school or campus, research and development of any type — something that contributes rather than detracts, and should that fail, then substitute it with open spaces again.
As I sit here typing away, it seems every 15 minutes the silence is penetrated with the sounds of sirens. Hell, I could do a study just on that alone. Is this the charm and character we wish to build? Sad.
Finally, let me be the first to say, and from my small wheelhouse, that Ormond Beach maintains impressive services. Those that I see employed within our city hall, obviously including our first responders, are top-notch performers and dedicated to the jobs they are assigned to. It is our commissioners that hold the responsibility and the accountability to forecast and carve out how and what the future will overall become. Our legacy should not be taken lightly. Once gone, forever lost.