I agree with you regarding the spending of Triumph funds. Ever since the tragic oil spill in the Gulf, lots of folks have had itchy palms to spend these very hard-earned dollars to further parochial interests.
Recently, Sen. George Gainer came to the Hub City and held a town hall meeting. By my estimates roughly 30 people total were in the room. The senator said he tried to get $1.75 million for a small connector road project off Raspberry Road but Gov. Rick Scott pulled out the red pen and declared it wasteful spending. Really?
As a business owner, I wonder where we are going around here with the lack of basic infrastructure improvements. We were told of minor improvements on John King Road so as to smooth the flow of vehicles in and out of a busy intersection. An article in the Daily News had someone from the Florida Department of Transportation saying it shouldn't take too long and was relatively inexpensive. Where is it? I thought there was discussion about doing something with the intersection by the Exxon Plaza and Wendy's south of Interstate 10 – maybe extend the access roads to I-10 and stop blocking north and southbound State Road 85 traffic. Where is that work? I see right now some government entity is spending money on trees at this on/off ramp; how much does that cost? Is it there to give the people stuck in traffic something to look at as they sit there? There was talk of a road off of SR 85 in front of Big Lots, allowing Redstone Road traffic to pull off of the major road way sooner. Where is that improvement?
I'll admit, these items are mostly city issues, but it's part of the overall problem. When are the citizens of the north county going to see some relief? Reminds me of the county administrator at Sen Gainer's town hall meeting. Commissioner Ketchel put him on the spot asking him to comment about the PJ Adams project we have heard about for some time. To the gentleman's credit he stood up and in a very positive tone said the PJ Adams project was coming along nicely and, with the way funding was coming in, we should have that project completed within 10 years. Nathan, the collective gasp of the citizens in the room was incredibly loud.
I'm a positive-thinking kind of guy and I'm positive things have got to change around here. Crestview and the rest of the north county are ripe for development; however, there are limits to both the patience of this community's citizens and all of the businesses (and associated jobs) we all seek. We should spend the money to build up our infrastructure, especially with tragic images from Texas in mind. People need roads to get out of harm's way. All of the Mid-Bay Bridge Connector and State Road 123 improvements built under the pretense of hurricane evacuation will be for nothing if there's still the massive speed bump called Crestview.
Florida is experiencing record tourism. Must we spend more money here to attract even more people? We have bed tax money coming in at a good clip; can't we cover some of these local issues with revenue generated from tourism already and use Triumph funds to bail out the previous generations of politicians who did not stay ahead of the community's infrustrure needs? I'm thinking of the Kevin Costner film "Field of Dreams"... if we build our infrastructure, we will see the economy grow along with the additional tax revenue. If we don't do something, the communities of Milton, Mossy Head and others will develop and even surpass Crestview with all of the businesses and population increases.
I'll leave you with two thoughts. First, I understand you cannot rush perfection, especially when it comes to government. But we have to try, so thank you for your efforts.
Lastly, because we cannot get our collective pieces-parts together doesn't mean other communities are standing still.
Thank you for your efforts and pray they pay off – for the community's sake.
This guest column was written by Alex Barthe', a franchisee of three UPS stores in the area. Mr. Barthe' lives in Crestview.