(Guest post by Elma Felix) Today, Sarasota residents love where we live, our beaches are ranked some of the best in the world, our days of sunshine and numerous arts destinations are top notch. We have some of the best school districts in the state of Florida, and one of the most prestigious art colleges in the United States. Residents love Sarasota County, and so do our over 90,000 seasonal residents who visit every year. Everything that we love attracts new residents every day. Although we’re not growing as fast as we were in the past (7,000 new residents a year in 2006), projected estimates place our County’s population at over 500,000 by the year 2040; that’s at a growth rate of approximately 1% per year, roughly 2,000 new residents a year.
There are wonderful things in Sarasota County that attract many; however, more recent trends like the gap between education and employment, the aging-in-place needs of our population, lack of affordable housing – amongst other issues – need our attention. In this context, it is hard to think that any “Plan” could address these issues, right? Not quite. Our County’s Comprehensive Plan – in a nutshell – is a policy-based guidebook for the future of Sarasota County. The Comprehensive Plan addresses these issues on a policy level, including things like where new roads (and improvements) should go, what level of service our libraries should have, where new fire stations should be built, what areas are susceptible for redevelopment, where new parks go, how neighborhoods should be preserved and enhanced; amongst other things. All of these combined create the Sarasota that we love. Over the next eighteen months, Sarasota County staff will be updating the County’s Comprehensive Plan. This Update aims at emphasizing the importance of important linkages between land use, mobility, economic development, sustainability, parks and health, as well as making the plan easier to navigate and understand – all in an effort to create stronger communities.
What we do today determines our footsteps tomorrow. Your voice is key as part of this process to shape the future goals of our County. Once the process begins the website (www.scgov.net/CompPlanUpdate) will host surveys, educational materials, workshop dates, videos and ways to stay involved throughout the Update. The Comprehensive Plan Update Kick-Off event is at the new Gulf Gate Library on February 11th, 2015. Event time is 5:30pm and the presentation starts at 6pm; refreshments will be provided. One idea is great, but 100 ideas are better. Tell a neighbor, tell a friend, and bring them along to the Comprehensive Plan Kick-Off!
Today. Tomorrow. Together. Let’s make Sarasota County great.