parkside redevelopment district’s public participation on human services, property and crime

Tonight’s community conference on Parkside’s Redevelopment District at the Cultural Center was packed with local triangle residents concerned about implementing a Master Mixed-Use Plan worth over  nine million dollars.  Attendees, guests, and several politicians had the opportunity to participate in two written exercises oriented towards identifying problems.  In the second, people were given a copy of a map and asked to draw a circle and a square around the areas they felt had the greatest need in crime and property respectively.

It’s the first exercise we want to share with you.  Your Personal Concierge – Southwest Florida’s Lifestyle Management and Errands Service happens to happily reside in the central, mostly medical and residential district.  And while we were concerned that the public didn’t have an opportunity to voice out concerns in an open forum, which we felt would have greatly generated more valuable dialogue, we were also not shocked to see the greater majority of written comments on colored Post-it Notes centering around property and crime.

We know that life is challenging.  This was confirmed tonight when the lady next to me mentioned her mom was suffering from macular degeneration and had to move in with the daughter.  So when the yellow Post-It Notes on Human Services went up in an attempt to collect ideas, we just had to take another, closer look to try to get a glimpse of what it is the people of Charlotte County NEED.

Over and over we noted repeating themes.  Public transportation; cleaning up litter; cover from the sun; affordable exercise programs for kids year round; elderly being taken advantage of; jobs training; kid friendly activity centers; solutions for the homeless; children left alone or unattended; substance abuse…and on and on.  Charlotte County is a microcosm of the societal ills facing our nation today.  We’re no different from Providence, Rhode Island or from Anchorage, Alaska [well, ok maybe you have me there].  The blight of a nationwide aging population who are little valued, the lack of child centric activities to build upcoming generations, the lack of meaningful, sustainable work….it all just starts to wear on the soul.

If we had been afforded the opportunity, we would have marched right up to the mic and encouraged the Parkside committees to not focus on which side of the telephone lines new trees will be installed on Elkcam, but rather to study and identify what truly makes communities work in our technology age.  Where are the viable communities, how are the different from us, and what can we learn from them?  Why can’t redevelopment be used as an opportunity to re-educate and re-inform?  Why can’t the experience be used as a growing, learning one for all involved and impacted?  One thing is for certain.  Human need is pervasive and everywhere.  If Parkside truly wants to excel, and wisely use the resources it’s been given, we will have to invest not in bike paths and gardens and golf-cart approved roadways, but in people and pioneering spirit.

The solutions portion of the program will be addressed from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on August 2, 2012 at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St, Port Charlotte. Attendance at both meetings is strongly encouraged.  Contact Jim Fendrick at (941) 764-4920 for additional information.

Your Personal Concierge – Southwest Florida’s Errands & Lifestyle Management Service.  Affordable and reliable services help you complete errands, knock out “to do” lists, and manage your personal and professional lifestyle with a big smile. Licensed Chamber of Commerce members.  941.875.5190 Mobile or 941.875.9090 Direct.

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