Each year, the president of the United States gives his state of the union presentation to Congress, highlighting the nation's top concerns and offering solutions.
Citrus County held its own version on Friday when the city managers of Crystal River (Ken Frink) and Inverness (Eric Williams) and the county administrator (Randy Oliver) took part in a panel discussion to lay out their annual "state of the city and county" issues for their respective municipalities.
It was held at the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon at Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club in front of an expected sell-out crowd of 135.
Here are highlights from their presentations.
“We’re a city on the move and we're planning for the future,” Frink said in his opening remarks.
Citrus Avenue, in downtown Crystal River, “is transforming before our eyes.” he cited the recently opened town square, First Friday entertainment events (encouraging people to come downtown and patronize businesses) and the upcoming creation of a kids’ splash pad.
The city, he said, listened to homeowners and drafted an ordinance establishing marked “quiet zones” for waterfront neighborhoods along King’s Bay.
Thirty-five derelict boats were removed from King’s Bay, reducing visual eyesore.
Frink said the city has started proceedings to annex parts of King’s Bay, expanding the city’s ability to regulate and enforce its own ordinances without interfering in another jurisdiction.
Williams said Inverness is emerging in a good economic position from the year-long COVID-19 epidemic.
Central Florida and Inverness experienced a “wellspring of opportunity” in the form of federal CARES Act money the city has earmarked for highway redevelopment and septic-to-sewer projects.
Williams said the city is focusing strongly on developing needed workforce housing. On the drawing board is the development of 2,000 vacant lots in Inverness Village and Inverness Acres.
Meanwhile, plans for the upscale 84-acre Wyld Palms subdivision off Turner Camp Road are proceeding. When done, the city envisions 62 townhomes and 178 single-family homes.
Williams said a major priority will be the creation of more youth opportunities for middle- to high-school students.
Oliver outlined several ambitious projects his board green-lighted during the past year, including a much-debated new $9-million animal shelter, $5 million for a new Inverness Airport Industrial Park and $3.9 for a Homosassa septic-to-sewer project.
The audience applauded when Oliver mentioned the state-approved traffic signal for the dangerous intersection at County Road 491 at State Road 200.
Oliver said the Citrus-Hernando Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is poised to hire a consultant to fund a $200,000 study on the Turkey Oak bypass.
County commissioners and Crystal River officials are worried that once the Suncoast Parkway extension to State Road 44 is completed later this year, westbound traffic would inundate the city’s downtown area. Instead, traffic would be rerouted from S.R. 44 onto Turkey Oak.
And speaking of the Suncoast Parkway, Oliver reminded the chamber audience that the toll road from U.S. 98 to the West Cardinal Street interchange will open by mid-October 2021.
The second stretch from Cardinal to State Road 44 is scheduled to open by the end of 2021, he said.