In Search of Civil Discourse
Summertime might be a little slower in Punta Gorda, but the business of city government does not stop. In fact, a lot is going on. As we wrestle with the wisdom of the various development opportunities that are being presented to us, I'd like to offer a few thoughts about development and civility. During leaner economic times, there were no public development opportunities to discuss. Now the situation has changed. Our town needs to build a year-round economy and we would all like to see the "missing teeth" in our downtown filled in. In order for this to happen we'll need to work together to shape our town once again. This will require a proactive approach to growth management, including the examination of best practices from other communities like ours.
Citizens will need to engage in a dialogue about changes as they are proposed, but the nature of the dialogue says a lot about who we are as a community. The conversation should be open, transparent, respectful and civil. Too often lately it has been rude, angry and mean-spirited. This is not the Punta Gorda way.
Change will come whether we want it to or not. Times change, the economy changes and new opportunities present themselves. It's important that we encourage the right kind of change. TEAM Punta Gorda was founded to protect the unique character of Punta Gorda after the devastation that was Hurricane Charley. It was not left to a few leaders to say what the town wanted and needed, but rather for the citizens of the community to determine a shared vision for the future. The right to question our leaders is fundamental to our democracy but it should be done with respect and also with some understanding of the issues being discussed. Let's seek those opportunities that support the vision we have for our community.