Going stir-crazy because I can’t seem to master “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on my little keyboard despite it being oh so easy.
You see, I only play the right hand. The notes. No chords. Good grief, it took me years to get this far.
I found a website that has the keynotes for hundreds of songs. Some of my favorites: “Ode to Joy,” “The Doxology,” “O Holy Night,” and “White Christmas.”
I haven’t played since Christmas, and in preparation for writing today’s blog about strategic planning, I copied a few more songs to start playing, including “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
First few attempts, I got it down. Later in the afternoon, though, I couldn't get through once a single time. That is SO frustrating. I mean…it’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Not Elton John.
So, even my distraction didn’t distract me enough. And now I’m 150 words into the blog and haven’t even broached today’s subject.
Might as well get to it.
The County Commission has a strategic planning workshop at 1 p.m. Thursday in Lecanto.
And…I’m stuck already.
I don’t mind writing about strategic planning if I’m the only one reading it. As for you, I can see the glaze in your eyes already.
So, I’m going to make an executive decision and skip the details. It’s strategic planning. There are experts who know how to put these things into real life, so I’ll just wait and watch while all that takes place.
Call it what they want, my view on these annual retreats has changed over time.
It’s helpful for commissioners to gather at least once a year to take the temperature on how things are going and the direction they want to go for the next 12 months. They generally don’t look farther into the future than one or two years.
They also tended to become commissioner wish lists for the year. Not much strategizing.
As the saying goes: That was then, this is now.
For a long time, this county progressed based on guesswork regarding the Suncoast Parkway. What would happen to roads, growth, schools, crime, etc. once that road opened?
Now we know. The “what ifs” are gone. Extraordinary growth. Crowded roads. Longtime Citrus Countians who say things are much worse, not better than they were 20 years ago. Plenty of angst about zoning.
That makes any forward-looking planning even more important, and more challenging.
It’s dawning on me that the timing of many of the conversations we need to have is already passing by. Here’s what I mean.
People much smarter than I pay close attention to the Comprehensive Plan. Many of those folks read this blog, and they consistently say the County Commission has totally gutted it with votes on big land-use cases.
Our comp plan is 30 years old. Citrus County today no longer resembles three decades ago. While the plan is updated regularly, some say it needs a complete overhaul.
That doesn’t come cheap and it doesn’t happen overnight. So, while the strategic plan goal may be to redesign the comprehensive plan, we’re still scrambling in the meantime to figure out storage units and car washes.
(Good news: I dropped “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for “Country Roads, Take Me Home.” Just like John Denver if he was playing the keyboard with one hand instead of a guitar, and was really, really bad.)
So, with all that said, three suggested topics for discussion:
— Road plan. We need one. A countywide transportation master plan would be ideal, though I’ve given up much hope that’ll ever happen. At the very least commissioners should come out of the strategy session with a general plan on how/when to widen C.R. 491 between Pine Ridge Boulevard and U.S. 41. I realize the goal is to get it widened to S.R. 200, but the stretch to U.S. 41 is the biggest need.
— Comp plan. It needs a rewrite. Citizens deserve to know this county’s growth direction. Right now we appear to have none. I realize five votes can go any which way at any time, but we’re shooting from the hip every time a land-use case lands on the dais.
— Sales tax plan 2026. Time to start having grown-up conversations about a 2026 sales tax referendum and what exactly that could pay for. While this initiative will be citizen-led, it’ll go nowhere if commissioners aren’t out in front.
Strategy session or goal setting. The label doesn’t matter. It’s results that count.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.