SEFFNER — People in Seffner want a place to gather.
That's one of the biggest conclusions emanating from the Greater Seffner Chamber of Commerce's ongoing effort to garner thoughts, ideas and suggestions from the community regarding Seffner's future.
The chamber's recent 30-year anniversary culminated in the creation of the "Leadership 31 Committee," which is spearheading a movement to get comments from residents.
"We decided that we needed to take a look at where we've been, what we've accomplished and what we need to do to stay relevant for the next 30 years," said chamber board member Lori Libhart.
At an open forum in the Stadium Room at Beef 'O' Brady's last month, a number of ideas emerged, including a desire for community events, a farmers market, craft shows and a dog show. Consequently, Libhart said, the board will continue to support the development of the new Seffner-Mango Park and a Phase 2 addition to the park that would include a bandshell.
The chamber also will continue to gather more input.
"We are looking to hear what people love about the area and what they would love to see here in the future," Libhart said. "We are not only looking at how to improve the community but how to improve the 'impression' of Seffner, as well."
At the forum, William Farnard, a Seffner resident and an employee of Lazydays RV, one of Seffner's largest employers, described the community as a wonderful place to live, work and play.
"We are a community of wonderful people," Farnard said. "People are the heart of Seffner, and that is what makes us special."
People casually jotted down ideas and thoughts on boards marked LIVE, WORK, PLAY with subcategories of "LOVE IT!" and "WOULD LOVE IT!"
The new library and the dog park repeatedly made the list of "LOVES." Other "LOVES" included Seffner Christian Academy. The combination of a small-town feel, rural atmosphere and the community's close access to amenities also drew praise.
The group's "WOULD LOVE" list proved longer. It ranged from large ticket items, such as a commuter train to the airport, Plant City and the beaches and a defining town square with a central, walkable downtown. Simple fixes included more flowers and more evening social events.
That list also included a small water/bubble park, a farmers market, craft shows, more restaurants, a bandshell, more employers and incentives for business start-ups.
Attendees also mentioned wanting to add long-term, life-changing services for people who are homeless and more circuitous bus routes to access social services.
The group consistently mentioned advertising, marketing and public relations when speaking of Seffner's image.
Although the chamber's budget may be limited, it has received encouragement from county Commissioner Victor Crist to bring new ideas to the table.
To learn about the chamber's ongoing effort, visit seffner chamber.com.
Contact Karla Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.