News / Events

Looking back to plan future of Southeast Volusia

By TRACEY T. BARLOW, GUEST EDITORIAL

April 24, 2010

Dear Readers,

We have invited a variety of local folks to use this space to share their point of view about our greater community, its challenges and its opportunities for success. These guest editorials will appear over the next few months as part of our commitment to present a broad range of ideas on this page.

— Michael Redding,
CEO and Publisher

Not only is Southeast Volusia a beautiful place to live and work, it is an exciting time to be part of planning the future of our community. As a resident of the city of Edgewater for 28 years and an employee for 24 years, I have seen many wonderful changes in the area.

In the past, some of the changes may have occurred without proper preparation while others had the opportunity of foresight and orchestrated management. Whether the change was managed, we have learned from the past, and those experiences will most certainly influence our decisions in the future. One of the most important things learned is the importance of vision and planning.

With the present economy and the slowdown in growth, local governments have the opportunity to evaluate the way they do business. One of the more recognizable changes is the increased need to assess required services and how those services are provided. In Southeast Volusia, the future and the continuation of such services are now evaluated in light of possible opportunities for efficiencies or enhancement in level of services if they were provided on a regional basis. This will promote the sharing of resources while maintaining the pleasurable quality of life for all within the region.

One such combined effort that has been successful since 2002 is the regional communications center. The center coordinates both police and fire-rescue resources throughout the entire region from a single dispatch center. It assures the closest fire-rescue unit is sent to the emergency regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. Another benefit of the arrangement is that each participating partnering city is required to sit on the governance and management board. This board is responsible for the fiscal accounting and the level of services delivered by the center. This ensures residents and business owners receive the most efficient services tailored for their region.

Joint long- and short-range planning must continue for the Southeast Volusia partners to sustain and prosper. These joint planning initiatives will allow for the recognition of resources and needs in the area so that local governments can jointly and efficiently address them. Previous joint planning has occurred, and must continue, in many areas to include water resources, growth management, roadway networks and emergency services. Recently, by participating in a regionally cooperative manner, we have ensured approximately 40,000 acres of green space that will be preserved within the Edgewater area with the Restoration and Farmton developments alone.

Other opportunities include initiatives that will reduce stormwater pollution to nearby rivers and alternative water and energy sources.

The city of Edgewater has many other favorable opportunities that will continue to make Southeast Volusia a great place to live and work. The city recently completed a visioning session that was heavily dependent on community involvement. One of the key goals to come from that process was the establishment of a viable downtown core for the city. In response to that goal and in recognition of our residential tax burden, programs have been put into place that will attract additional commercial development. By planning and attracting the commercial development to Edgewater, we will be able to create jobs that will allow our residents to work within their own community. The city, with a financial grant from our partners in the Volusia County Economic Development Department, is in the process of completing a comprehensive economic-development strategy. This study will help with further planning and directing commercial development that is attractive and appropriate for our area.

With the recent changes in The News-Journal, I look forward to the paper enhancing its relationships with local governments in order to make a stronger community partner. I believe this partnership will help facilitate our local governments to maintain the transparency that we all strive to achieve. It is their commitment to local in-depth coverage that will encourage community involvement. Involvement of the residents and business leaders will foster the much-needed synergy to move our community into the future.

I am optimistic that the events we have experienced in the past compounded with the ongoing planning will only make us stronger communities for a healthier, safer, cleaner and more resilient Southeast Volusia.

 


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