No pictures today of washed-out streets.
No videos of vehicles sinking in the muck.
No images of the brown sauce that passes for streets at Inverness Villages 4.
But, man, I love their shirts.
T-shirts for community causes are all the norm these days. It’s usually the opponents on zoning cases, neighborhood folks who have T-shirts to rally around protecting something — Ozello, Pine Ridge golf course, Meadowcrest, etc.
I’m drawn to the Inverness Villages 4 T-shirt the same way I’m drawn to their cause.
Look at that shirt. Basic as can be. Black with white letters: “IV4.” What else do you wanna know?
The residents of IV 4 are my citizen heroes, no-nonsense folks dealing with an unheard-of nightmare, trying to finagle a government quagmire while making sure their cars don’t get stuck in the road.
They live on streets that are public but don’t have the same rules. The roads are regulated by the county, maybe, and other agencies, possibly. They have a county commissioner advocate, which is great, but often feel unheard by a government that already has its plan in place with little input from residents.
The other day someone kindly sent a donation to the Just Wright Citrus Venmo account. The donor thanked me for keeping IV 4 in the public’s eye.
I appreciate that, but it’s my job. The yeoman’s effort County Commission Chairman Holly Davis is making for IV 4 is impressive, but it is, after all, her job. Same for the agencies stepping up to make life challenging for the non-developer of IV 4, hoping some pressure will bring about a resolution, or at least prevent further damage.
All very important. But it’s our job. We’re paid to do what we do.
We don’t live there. I don’t have sandbags stacked up around my garage to keep it from flooding in a day-long rainstorm. I don’t risk my car’s suspension every time I leave the neighborhood for a trip to the grocery store. I’m not entangled in red tape, trying to get one government agency to speak with another government agency.
And I’m not the one getting confusing answers with each question.
These black-shirted IV 4 residents are my heroes because their cause is personal. And they are not giving up.
The IV 4 story is not easily digestable. We’ve noted the complexity. It goes back 50 years, and none of the original players are around anymore. There’s a lot of finger-pointing, government shrugging, and the bottom-line expense of making all this right.
Meanwhile, the roads are not getting less sandy. The rainwater isn’t going to drain itself.
— This is NOT the same as every private dirt road in the county. These circumstances happened once and were never repeated. They are the direct result of county commissioners 50 years ago asleep at the switch, and not watching the details. Along the line a peculiar set of circumstances led to where we are today.
The current County Commission didn’t create this mess. But its predecessors did so guess what? They’re stuck with it. While it’s true a judge absolved the county of the responsibility of paving IV 4 roads, Citrus County commissioners have a moral obligation to help these folks. Not solve the problem but assist in solving it.
— The county government is going hard after the non-developer and is asking Attorney General Ashley Moody to get involved. Wonderful. Huge. Other agencies are stepping up. Now the county should take that same take-charge attitude on finding a solution for these “public” roads before the summer rains.
— Continuing to say “we can’t” does not solve the road/drainage problem, and it’s not leadership. Residents recently said they wanted to pool their money to grade the streets. Seems logical, and it shows residents taking initiative. Wouldn’t have cost the county a penny. County’s answer: Nope. With a long government reason why not.
It’s infuriating to the residents dealing with this nightmare on a daily basis. I mean…think about it. This is their HOME. Blame people or circumstances all you want, but these IV 4 friends deserve our empathy at least.
I don’t live in Inverness Villages 4, but I identify with their battle. We’re going to keep the conversation going in 2024. Can’t wait to ask candidates about it.
I met with some IV 4 folks at Cattle Dog over the weekend where they gifted me a T-shirt. I’ll wear it proudly. I appreciate the message.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.