“Mommy, can you leave the light on?” It’s a common request of small children at bedtime. The change from light to dark brings with it fear of monsters under the bed or creatures in the closet. Most children grow out of the fear but these feelings of things being different causes fear throughout our lives.
Reacting to change and its fear has distinct stages like dealing with any loss. First is Denial (NO) followed by Opposition (I’ll fight this). Then the critical stage Resignation (This is happening). The next two stages are the positive ones where Realization (Good is an outcome) and Embracement (We can work with this) happen.
Florida is one of five states with no state income tax and it is the only one on the east coast. Florida has good weather most of the year and it’s particularly nice for longer across the Northern panhandle. Florida has exceptional outdoor opportunities for fishing, hunting, birding, boating, horse riding, flying, hiking, camping, RV and so on. Florida has world class educational institutions. Florida celebrates its diversity and cultural richness. Florida checks every desirability box on the list!
Hence, Florida’s population continues to grow. “The Demographic Estimating Conference, Florida's population between April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2024 is expected to grow by an average of 330,605 residents per year. The roughly 900 new Florida residents each day is the equivalent of adding a city the size of Orlando every year.”
This change is coming and it’s coming to Jefferson County. Leon County’s growth is east. ‘Heritage Hills’ development near 59 and I-10 is sold out. Look at the other developments and the amount of cleared land. One local realtor said the $300,000 range in the housing market is hot here.
The state Department of Transportation is getting ahead of the demand by extending the Sun Coast toll road from the central region into the panhandle. Toll road extension will pass through several counties with good available land and underdeveloped economies. This infrastructure connects several of the key arteries of the state highway system –improving the overall network.
Currently, Jefferson County is in the toll road extension plan. The timeline is such that there is plenty of time to embrace the coming change and prepare ourselves to make the most of it. We can get our comprehensive plan and our future land use maps up to date and ready. We can take advantage of available state money for education for job training to prepare people to support the toll road labor needs and for the future. We can create a plan to truly make Monticello and the county into a walk-able place where people spend time after 5 PM and on the weekends.