TREASURE ISLAND — More than 10 years after creating a broad vision for future development, the City Commission decided Tuesday to again redefine the city's character.
"As a community we don't know who we are anymore. We have a business segment that is convinced the city does nothing to help make them successful, and residents convinced that no one listens to them," City Manager Reid Silverboard told the commission.
The commission appointed former Mayor Mary Maloof to chair a steering committee tasked with updating the city's official vision plan. In the next few weeks, other members will be selected. They will include residents, business owners and people with hotel interests. No timetable was set for completing the visioning process.
Maloof said the city has experienced "utter chaos" since the last vision plan was approved in 1998.
That plan stressed the importance of the city's beaches and maintaining a small-town ambience. Residents also said they wanted better traffic controls, general beautification, a post office and upscale restaurants.
Last summer, the commission budgeted $15,000 to hire a trained facilitator to help with the new visioning process.
Tuesday, however, commissioners were reluctant to authorize spending that money, opting instead to establish the steering committee and seeking outside grants to fund the process.
"The conditions of this city from 1998 to today are like night and day," said Commissioner Alan Bildz. "I am all for the visioning study, I'm just not willing to spend $15,000."
In just the past three years, the city spent about $165,000 to create a downtown redevelopment plan and a special area plan. Those plans reviewed building density and intensity, permitted uses, building configurations, parking, mixed-use development, and alternatives for downtown redevelopment.
Other commissioners weren't quite convinced to plunge ahead with the visioning. "While I feel the endeavor is a noble one, I feel it is ill-timed," said Commissioner Phil Collins. "I think we are just repeating what we have already done, to no avail." And Commissioner Ed Gayton Jr. said: "Let's see what has been done, what hasn't been done, and why it hasn't been done."
Mayor Bob Minning struck a more positive note, telling his colleagues: "Visioning is an essential part of any community moving forward."