If you think the Tampa Bay area is crowded now, imagine 2050, when the region's population is expected to double to 7-million people. Where will they live and work? How will they get around? Will there be enough drinking water, room in our schools and space for agriculture and parks? These problems may seem a long way off, but the decisions this community is making now will shape the region for generations to come. Residents can make a mark through an online survey.
The One Bay "VoiceIt" campaign is not an attempt to create binding rules on growth for seven counties in west central Florida, from Hernando to Sarasota, including Polk. Rather, business and political leaders want residents to think ahead about what kind of communities they want. In the survey, found at myonebay.com, respondents can choose from four scenarios. The first, a do-nothing approach, illustrates the impact that continued suburban sprawl will have on traffic congestion and the environment. Three alternatives offer ways to maximize land and natural resources by expanding mass transit and bringing jobs, schools and businesses closer to the neighborhoods.
Good cities do not evolve by accident, and this exercise is a way to visualize how planning affects everyday life. Residents can see doable options for curbing air and water pollution, relying less on cars and cutting housing and transportation costs. The maps also bring a sense of urgency to the decisionmaking process. One Bay will conduct the survey through October, so check out the Web site. Policymakers need to hear that residents want more than a parochial, haphazard approach to growth.