Apathy or ambivalence

THE ISSUE: Citrus County’s growth endangering our quality of life.

OUR OPINION: We must find, follow solid, safe strategic plan.

A recent letter to the editor by Cleo Lydy of Homosassa laments the failed promise of county commissioners — past and present — to preserve Citrus County’s quality of life.

The writer confesses to driving with “blinders,” so as not to see the “slaughter of our environment.”

Cleo Lydy is not alone.

Despite the vow by county commissioners to keep U.S. 19 from becoming another New Port Richey, it is ringing hollow as the roadway looks more and more like New Port Richey each year. The highway in Homosassa, particularly, has become an ugly, barely navigable nightmare.

Granted, populations expand and roads must accommodate more traffic. Also, with population growth comes more business to serve locals and attract and serve visitors.

Through the past several most recent decades, Citrus County has changed dramatically with growth, and the effects of this growth are both aesthetic and environmental.

Face it. At the very least, it’s just not pretty anymore on U.S. 19. And with more tourists and a growing resident population, we constantly must be prudent in keeping watch over our waterways and marine life, as well as our dwindling rural, unspoiled areas of trails, forests and parks and such.

Changes for the worse were probably inevitable. More changes for the worse could also be expected unless we take time and rethink where we are headed — aesthetically and environmentally. Some of these detrimental impacts to Citrus County are irrevocable.

Balancing business and economic interests with environmental concerns is a delicate balance. Our county’s comprehensive plan provides a roadmap to help government officials keep both in mind. Unfortunately, government does stray from recommendations and exceptions are allowed far too often.

Which begs the question: Is this apathy or ambivalence? It is not uncommon to hear talking out of both sides of the mouth here. “U.S. 19 is so ugly, it looks like a strip mall” can be closely intertwined with “I wish they would build a Hobby Lobby.”

Do we just not care enough about the situation or are we too equally pulled in both directions regarding the environment and development of commerce?

Economically advantageous growth and environmentally sound aesthetics can exist together. Numerous cities and towns nationwide have proved this with innovative strategic planning and foresight even beyond those set plans.

Citrus County’s comprehensive plan should be constantly updated when it is apparent that the balance has been disrupted.

Cleo Lydy wrote “I am ashamed of my laziness and apathy in avoiding the meetings where decisions were, and are, made. Perhaps others feel the same and we could write or email our county commissioners and ask a few questions.”

Let’s shake off the apathy and fight to preserve our way of life. It is an effort to affect generations to come.