Development Theme Continues to Occupy Largo’s City Staff
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO – Only one member of Largo’s City Commission slowed down the momentum at the end of the meeting Tuesday night as it became apparent that all hands – elected and hired – wanted to get out of City Hall with the urgency of a guy with his hair on fire.
Commissioner Rodney Woods threw out an encomium to “honor all mothers,” as his colleagues looked at one another apparently baffled and wondering what calendar he was operating under. Then everyone skedaddled.
Another element of wonderment was why Tuesday night’s gathering was a “doubleheader” meeting with a “special meeting” preceding the regularly scheduled work session.
This baffled at least one commission member who said, “I have no idea why. I checked back on last week’s meeting looking for a reason. None of the items looked ‘earth shattering’.”
It turns out that one item, on a couple of annexations, was time sensitive and action concerning the Emergency Operations Center project was needed to keep that work going on time.
The work session itself was taken up with matters of not much urgency.
City staff has gone on a redevelopment binge with grand and detailed plans for West Bay Drive which is now under review. The massive document raises many questions, questions that will no doubt slow down its progress once members of the commission give it close examination.
A review of the city’s economic development plan was presented Tuesday night by Theresa Brydon, the city’s Economic Development Manager. The plan comprised 10 detailed pages and an appendix with five or six pages rich in lavish and extensive graphs and compilations.
An obvious conclusion inferred from looking at the extensive development documents is that a whale of a lot of staff work hours (that translates to money) has been expended.
Just exactly a year ago, the city created the Economic Development Division, the goal of which is to broaden the city’s economic base and encourage economic expansion.
The division is now working to expand employment opportunities and support keeping businesses in the city.
Eight components make up the plan. They are business retention and expansion, industrial/commercial development, neighborhood commercial development, annexation, economic development incentives , workforce, social and cultural resources development, and visibility and marketing.
Some of these are interesting questions – for example, social and cultural resources development.
This is not all pie in the sky abstraction. What it boils down to in essence in many cases is future land use decisions. This is critical, and in a city noted for a residential population that is apathetic and therefore unknowledgeable about what goes on in City Hall, could be crucial.
Couple that with a City Commission, some of the members of which are out in left field in closely following complicated documents generated by the professionals on the city staff, and a situation grows where the staff is running the city and the elected folks are just there nodding away.
In other words, a classic tail wagging the dog scenario.
Return to Current Edition