The Spirit of Punta Gorda is Alive and Well

Nancy Johnson, CEO

 

The month of March reinforced my confidence in the spirit of Punta Gorda as we successfully
concluded the charrette portion of the update to our communitywide Master plan. There was
plenty of participation at all levels including government, city leaders, and citizens! There were lots of new ideas and a positive, proactive energy throughout the week as community members and members of various civic groups and associations worked side-by-side with Punta Gorda public officials and staff to consider possibilities for the future. It is a great example of an effective public-private partnership at work. Victor Dover and his team of talented planners infused new ideas, utilized facts from their initial assessments of our City, and brought techniques such as instant polling into the process.

Among the frequent ideas heard around tables at the charrettes were the need for more: enhanced greenery; variation in architecture; bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure; inviting and walkable public spaces; a new look at traffic patterns (roundabouts may be in our future?); improved boater facilities; a town square; Taylor street as a promenade; more workforce housing; and a badly needed community center. Remarkably, there was a great deal of commonality to the themes discussed by participants.

The plan will also include an analysis of our land development regulations and an economic development study. These elements provide a reality check to the visioning process. A funding strategy will need to be developed if any of the recommendations are to be implemented. With City reserves at a low of eight %, there is no extra cash to draw on for special projects.

A preliminary presentation by project consultants included other useful economic information. Our City’s property taxes are apparently among the lowest in the State of Florida. Also, only nine % of those who work here actually live here, largely because of a shortage of affordable workforce housing. Such realities encourage the development of a plan which addresses not only architectural standards but issues of economic growth and stability as well.

The plan will not be completed until August and will include an implementation plan to help us get started. We look forward to seeing Dover/Kohl’s creativity applied to our unique character and problems. It’s likely that our activities will be guided by this plan for years to come. Preliminary reports, the videos of the work-in-progress and other sessions, and the economic development study can be accessed at https://www.puntagordamasterplan.com.  If you missed it, you can still contribute your thinking on this site.

In other TEAM Punta Gorda news, this weekend was exceptional with 530+ bicyclists riding all over our town in 15, 30 and 60 mile rides plus a mystery tour during our annual Pedal and Play in Paradise event. As is traditional, it was kicked off on Friday night by our City Manager, Howard Kunik, who provided a great tour of all things new in the City. Pedal and Play raises money for the Lymphoma Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and TEAM Punta Gorda. A great time was had by all.

Also having a great weekend were 119 golfers who participated in the TEAM Punta Gorda Golf Scramble at St. Andrews South Golf Club. The weather was great this weekend for this event which raises funds in support of TEAM’s mission to make the greater Punta Gorda area a better place to live, work, and play.

The TEAM Builds house going up on Virginia Ave. in partnership with Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity will be ready for occupancy by a deserving young family this Spring! Some 60 TEAM volunteers have provided many hours of work to complete this lovely home.