I wanted to come right back and flesh out some more of my thoughts from yesterday’s post about the future of Downtown Lakeland and Howard Wiggs’ recent vision meeting.
Commissioner Wiggs and I spoke for a few minutes today and are planning to talk again in the near future regarding his thoughts for downtown and ways downtown can be improved. He was very forthright and engaging in our conversation.
There was a misperception on my part and others regarding the nature of his meeting on Wednesday. He said today that he is not interested in controlling the vision or discussion of downtown’s future. The purpose of the Wednesday meeting was to generate ideas that can be brought to the City Commission or LDDA or a formal task force to restart the dreaming process for Downtown Lakeland.
This was also confirmed during the City Commission agenda study this morning, which @DixieCRA covered adeptly. The commissioners and city manager agreed that there was some momentum for downtown visioning and that it’s important to open up the process.
The most recent plan for downtown was developed in 2009, so there’s lots of room for updating and re-imagining. Wiggs said during the meeting, according to @DixieCRA, that he liked the idea of LDDA in partnership with the city leading the way. Mayor Fields also emphasized having public meetings to keep everything in the open.
So, it sounds like the ball is rolling on a new Downtown Lakeland strategic planning process. This should be a good thing for the city, and I’m encouraged after seeing the recap of the commission meeting and speaking with Commissioner Wiggs. His initiative and that of those he invited to the lunch was key in the broader discussion.
Update: Had a question on Facebook about the 2009 plan. It’s still posted online. You can access it here: http://www.plandowntownlakeland.com/theplan.html
Consider me part of the confused camp after I read this morning that Lakeland mayoral candidate Howard Wiggs hosted a Downtown Lakeland vision lunch Wednesday at Grasslands.
The water got even muddier as I followed Twitter updates from the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority this morning, at which Wiggs was added to the agenda to talk about his Wednesday meeting.
According to The Ledger’s recap of Wiggs’ private lunch, which was closed to the press after some brief presentations so that everyone could speak “candidly,” Wiggs has heard complaints about how downtown is run. There are some people who don’t feel that they are involved in the discussion on downtown’s future, and they want to be. Wiggs figured someone should lead the charge, so he invited people to lunch.
The digital revolution has put newspapers under intense pressure.
That being said, like most Polk County residents, I was surprised to see Jerome Ferson’s column in Sunday’s edition of The Ledger announcing that the paper was transitioning to a digital subscription model. Readers are going to have to pay to read The Ledger online beginning this weekend.
This isn’t a new discussion or a decision made in the past few weeks. This idea was being considered when I was in the newsroom five years ago, and gained some more traction when The New York Times introduced its paywall. The Times used to own The Ledger before selling to Halifax Media a couple of years ago.
Other newspapers have done this too, such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal. Truthfully, management wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t consider online subscriptions as a way to generate more cash in the face of declining circulation and reduced print ad revenue.
But I’m not sold this was the right move for The Ledger, and I’m not sure if I’m going to get the online subscription. Continue reading
February is a full month in Polk County.
There are a ton of exciting events in our community this month. As I was glancing at my own calendar of things that I want to attend, I realized it’s really too much. So I figured ranking them would help me sort through things and maybe help you, as well.
Here’s the countdown: Continue reading
I’m an avid golfer, but I’ll admit that I’m not totally up on the status of the resort golfing industry. That aside, I see great potential in the new Streamsong Resort, which officially opened this weekend in southwestern Polk County.
I love the premise of the course: building a world-class venue from reclaimed phosphate land. It’s a different kind of golf course than you’ll find most anywhere in the country, and it’s already received strong reviews from national outlets like Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
The idea is that golfers with money to burn who plan golf trips will be drawn to the remote location with picturesque views, challenging golf, and eventually, a top-notch resort facility. Continue reading
Like many Lakeland residents, I was relieved Wednesday to see that the businessmen who had been reportedly pushing behind the scenes to change the city charter in regards to selling Lakeland Electric were ending their efforts.
Steve Scruggs, executive director of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, spoke during a city meeting Tuesday night and informed commissioners and those present that he and Brian Philpot and Barney Barnett would no longer seek to change the city charter.
According to The Ledger, Scruggs told commissioners, “In meeting with you over the past six months it was never our intent to hurt you or the city of Lakeland. I understand that some of you have felt at best, uncomfortable, and worst, threatened during the process.”
To read the full Ledger article, click here.
It was a somewhat surprising end to a controversy that seemed to come out of nowhere and produced very little, if any, results. Commissioners didn’t act on the idea of putting a change in the charter language on the ballot so that residents could vote to change it. As of now, the charter requires 66 percent of Lakeland’s registered voters to approve a sale, which is a pretty daunting task. Continue reading
I have to say I was impressed reading the brief but informative story by Mary Toothman in The Ledger today recapping a recent meeting between Florida Poly, USF, UF, and Board of Governors officials.
The gist of the article, which you can read here, is that the transition of assets from USF to Florida Poly is going to be complicated, Florida Poly needs staff and will contract with UF for help, and everyone is happy and looking forward to a great working relationship.
Mary didn’t include it in the story, but I’m assuming there was a rainbow glimmering over the building and someone playing a harp in the corner, maybe even some doves gliding through the room.
Is everyone really going to be playing this nice? Continue reading