The Commission will use feedback gathered at the OB Life series to craft an updated strategic plan for the city.
The city's first of six civic engagement workshops held on Thursday, June 28 centered around development and its recent impact on the community, a topic that drew a crowd of almost 250 people wanting their opinions to be heard.
Ormond Beach's OB Life series aims to gather citizen feedback on topics including transportation, the environment, economic development and public safety to aid the City Commission in developing a new strategic plan for the city. The six workshops, which will be held over the next six months at the Calvary Christian Academy Kids Center, are reminiscent of the city's 2015 community conversation meetings that served the same purpose. The OB Life series, however, is more specific regarding subjects of discussion.
“Tonight is all about talking about Ormond Beach: How can we maintain the character and charm of this wonderful community?" said City Manager Joyce Shanahan during the introductions.
The first workshop featured two presentations by Planning Director Steven Spraker and Ormond MainStreet Executive Director Julia Truilo. Spraker spoke about the process of how development happens in the city, including brief discussions on how many available parcels are left on Granada and any plans in the works for them.
Truilo focused her presentation on the importance of downtown, which spans 1.76 miles on Granda Boulevard from Orchard Street to A1A on the beachside. As it stands, she said about 3,000 people work in that corridor, which is home to 150 businesses and 1,300 housing units. Going forward, Truilo said MainStreet wants positive change for downtown.
“Downtown is more than just a place; it’s a feeling," she said. "It’s the way you feel about your town.”
The meeting was independently moderated by Rafael Montalvo from the University of Central Florida. Questions from the audience, who were sat in round tables, were picked from a bowl by Hal Beardall from Florida State University.
Questions answered ranged from tree preservation standards in the city to how the Wawa in the upcoming Granada Pointe development was approved. One question also asked if the city planned to hire an environmental specialist to consult with on future development. The answer was no.
The workshop was split into a few parts: presentations, a Q&A session, polling and individual table discussions. About 50 people left after the Q&A. For those that remained, the polling and the individual table discussions became the most interactive.
Still, some people were skeptical about the process.
“I don’t think it’s going to help because I’ve already attended neighborhood meetings, Planning Board meetings and City Commission meetings, and if they didn’t listen for an entire year, I’m not convinced they’re going to listen now," Ormond Beach resident Suzanne Scheiber said.
She is planning to show up at every OB Life workshop, though, because she said everyone in town deserves to have a voice and be heard.
“Overall, it’s a nice city. It’s a nice place, and I think that we have to accept the fact that things are going to change."
Joe Daniels, Ormond Beach resident
Her husband, Tim Scheiber, also wondered about the need for a moderator. He said a good mayor or commission should be able to negotiate without having to pay for others to "smooth things out."
“I’m not against [the moderator] or anything like that; it’s just I don’t see why a city would have to go to the extreme," he said. "Because there was a lot of people vocalizing, and they are just choosing not to listen.”
Other residents in attendance felt like they had some of their questions answered during the workshop. Joe Daniels, who has lived in the city since 1939, said he looks at the city now versus how it was when he first moved here and sees a big difference.
“Overall, it’s a nice city," Daniels said. "It’s a nice place, and I think that we have to accept the fact that things are going to change."
Ormond Beach resident Sue Parkerson has lived here for 30 years. As a child, she and her family used to come visit her aunt who lived in town. While she said traffic has definitely increased over the years, she agreed the city is still a nice place to live and credited the city manager.
“That’s one reason why Ormond is such a great place to live, is Joyce Shanahan,” Parkerson said.