Both Kuhn and Woodruff emphasized Sanford’s need for a master plan. That effort alone will serve as the single, most important indicator of success for this commission. If at the end of its term, the city still operates under what Kuhn has called a crisis management culture, then progress will continue haphazardly and the city cannot afford that. Residents expect action from this commission. Enough discussion about a master plan has taken place, now is the time to put one in place. Not to do so will surely be termed a failure.
The master plan should include the city’s desires for downtown. We want diversity of business. We need investors who care about the city and about their business appearance. We need fewer absentee landlords, and more places for people to live in comfort and safety. Second story residences in downtown would make sense and develop a real sense of community. With a master plan, developers will know what the city wants and how they can meet standards. It will help them design plans that satisfy the city, while avoiding lengthy approval processes that have caused frustration and conflict in the past.
The same goes for our parks, especially Fort Mellon Park. Our parks are the jewels that make Sanford shine. The master plan must also address the city’s requirements for the waterfront. No inland Central Florida city borders such a grand scene as Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River. All of this will make Sanford attractive to residents, businesses, and visitors. Planning will make or break the progress already begun.
Once plans are in place, code enforcement will protect their integrity. Both Kuhn and Woodruff made code enforcement a linchpin of their campaigns. Sanford needs better enforcement of codes already in place, but just as important is a proactive stance on solving problems. We don’t want a Gestapo, but ideas such as switching from liens to fines for some violations will create more bite in enforcement. Code enforcement with the teeth to be effective will be a true measure of success for this commission.
A new public safety building would serve as a visible sign of success. Without one, the growing police and fire presence in Sanford will suffer. Anyone who works in the current building will tell you how cramped things have become. A modern facility will provide a home for our newly accredited police department. In order to obtain further accreditation that could open opportunities for the department, a new public safety building is crucial.
The turmoil surrounding the city manager’s office since last summer must be resolved quickly in order for Sanford to move forward with any plans. It is important that stability and trust be established in the city’s top administrative position.
The key to all of this will be citizen participation. It is practically unheard of that more people vote in a runoff election than the general election. Yet that is what occurred here. The low initial voter turnout questioned the resolve of Sanford residents for their future. But they responded positively. To build on that momentum, residents must have clear channels to voice their opinions to city leaders and have opportunity for taking part in the progress that will affect all of us.
With the election over, it is time for Kuhn and Woodruff to follow through with campaign promises. We wish them, and the commission, well as they work to make Sanford a better place.