New active citizen’s groups are popping up. These citizens are angry and they are energized…each group with their own personal set of complaints. . . Why? The root of all angst seems to be based on what many residents feel is their diminished voice in city government and the lack of vision for smart, responsible growth in the ever-changing landscape of our beloved City.

From the Archstone debacle on, few seemed to care or hear the resident’s deep concerns. There are those in the local development community that have continuously name-called and thrown slurs, calling residents extremist who dare to have the courage to speak out openly. But have they ever taken the time to stop and really listen to resident concerns?

Palmetto Promenade (Archstone) will take up a tremendous stretch of land on East Palmetto Park Road with minimal retail. This will not contribute to our downtown as intended, nor will it add to pedestrian friendliness.  The recently completed  ‘Mark at Cityscape’ presents a challenge to even walk around the building. Variances have been granted to allow for unprecedented changes on the Barrier Island and beach. Dare a citizen mention they don’t like a project or suggest additional green-space and they are called anti-development. Dare a citizen say anything…they are labeled and vilified.

 The current attitude toward honest, caring, loyal, tax paying, event going, involved local residents…the very residents that support the local businesses, is divisive and heartbreaking.  To talk about citizens in this manner contributes to the atmosphere that is now hurting us all.

The residents are stakeholders with opinions and ideas. They deserve, and are entitled to, a seat at the table on all City matters. Particularly when items of import such as quality of life are at stake. When citizens stand up and give their opinion they are often called “clueless”, ‘”crazies”, “anti-business”, “nay-sayers”, “anti-growthers”, “misinformed” etc.   It is hurtful, it’s not true and it’s frankly offensive. And it’s because of this, the number of angry, disenchanted residents is growing in number rapidly. Now the landowners/developers feel there is a potential of them losing millions of dollars…What a shame!

Buildings that aren’t beautiful and codes that aren’t being followed have currently put the development process at a standstill. There is an attempt afoot to place the blame for the standstill on the backs of the citizens. The citizens are the only ones in this with little to gain but working to maintain a city they will continue to be proud of.

Why not talk about listening and discussing? Why not sit down at a table together, with manners and respect. The residents are invested in this community.  The finger-pointing and name-calling has got to stop! Please!!

The only way to move forward is to stop fighting and try to fix.  This is in the hands of our leadership (elected officials).  Please show real leadership and make this better.