Agenda for progress
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 31, 2004 at 10:53 p.m.
Given community unification and cooperation, we can make Gainesville an even more pleasant place to live in 2005.
Making Gainesville an even more pleasant place to live in 2005 calls for community unification and cooperation.
Happy New Year, Gainesville. Now let's get to work.
As is our tradition, The Sun begins the new year with a suggested agenda that we believe will help make Gainesville and Alachua County a better, more prosperous and more equitable community.
The city, UF and business leaders who attended last year's trips to New Haven and Yale returned with lots of ideas for encouraging tech transfers from UF labs to the marketplace for streamlining the development-permitting process and planning the community's future growth. In 2005, those ideas should be turned into policies.
A recent national report titled "Leveraging Colleges and Universities for Urban Economic Revitalization: An Action Agenda," shows how community-university alliances across the country are creating new jobs and bringing about urban renewal. Gainesville and UF are poised to follow the examples set by the likes of the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, Illinois and Chicago, Old Dominion and Norfolk, Georgia Tech and Atlanta and Ohio State and Columbus.
Finding ways to improve test scores and enrich the learning experience at eastside schools whose students are disproportionately from minority and low-income families should be the district's top priority this year. The board will need to allocate the resources necessary to improve schools on the "wrong" side of town.
We continue to believe that the real problem with local government finances is that we have too much government, that Gainesville and Alachua County have too many overlapping lines of jurisdiction and that the community would be better off with a consolidated government in the fashion of Jacksonville-Duval. In 2005, we hope to see the beginning of a citizens reform movement to unify Gainesville and Alachua County.
In the meantime, the city and county would do well to look at service consolidation ideas - merging their two fire-rescue operations, for instance - in the interest of efficiency. And in the absence of consolidation, Gainesville should continue to annex into the metro area, thereby relieving the pressure on county government to deliver urban services.
Last year, the prospect of building a Wal-Mart Supercenter at the headwaters of Hogtown Creek created community turmoil. This year, Wal-Mart's proposal to build one of its supercenters in east Gainesville may help spur additional economic growth where it is badly needed.
As the year begins, there is an encouraging sense that Gainesville is continuing its evolution from a sleepy college town to a great university city. With a little vision, a lot of planning and a considerable amount of cooperation between the major players in business, government, education and the neighborhoods, this community can become a better place to live in 2005.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article