Group a gaggle of economic development folks from seven Tampa Bay area counties in a room. How many "visions" of our regional future would emerge?
As amusing and painful as that exercise would prove, a long-long-range planning effort for our metro area has assembled four scenarios of what the greater Tampa Bay area, one far more populated than today's, could look like in 2050.
Forty-two years sounds like a long way off, but any serious plan — like reorganizing our busy roads and bridges, introducing genuine mass transit, redefining the density of affordable area housing, assuring long-term water sources, preserving nature and upgrading job quality, to name but a few — takes a long time. So does paying for it.
On Monday, a forward-thinking group of public and private organizations called One Bay will hold five meetings across the Tampa Bay area to get public input on what our metro area should look like by midcentury. Sure, we want a terrific place to live, work, grow up in and retire to. How do we get there?
"We looked at how we are growing, and the projections are this would not be a very livable place in the future," says area SunTrust Bank chairman Dan Mahurin, who chairs One Bay.
All these look-way-ahead efforts fall under the trendy name of "visioning." More and more states and cities are doing visioning projects — from Envision Utah and Chicago Metropolis to Louisiana Speaks and Southeast Florida 2060.
One Bay is purposely focused on the goals of the greater metro area rather than the wants of individual counties and cities. Its eventual aim is to gain the input of tens of thousands of area residents. Debra Kent Faulk will manage the One Bay outreach campaign through the summer. Meeting times and locations for the five meetings on Monday can be found at www.myonebay.com.
"Florida" and "vision" are words rarely in the same sentence. Guess what? We need an upgrade. It's time to look way ahead and stretch ourselves.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.