Saturday, April 01, 2006

Glades Workshop To Attack Local Problems

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades County, the City of Moore Haven, and Glades
County School Board, Glades County Economic Development Council, Inc., and
community leaders are encouraging residents from around Glades County to
participate in the third and final visioning workshop, Monday, April 3
from 6-9 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, River Road, Moore Haven.

Priorities developed during the "Creating the County We Want" visioning
process, funded by a grant to Florida 's Heartland Rural Economic
Development Initiative, (FHREDI), from the Florida Department of Community
Affairs, will be used by Glades County, the cities in Glades County and
regional agencies in their planning and decision-making.

After a short review of the county's demographics at the first meeting,
which showed that Glades County ranks among the lowest in the state in
terms of average income, median wage and other factors, residents quickly
agreed that economic development is needed to improve the quality of life
and provide higher paying jobs for current residents, and new jobs so
local children can afford to stay in the county, as well as increasing the
tax base to fund essential services for current residents and their

Residents also expressed their concerns on a variety of other topics.
Among them:

Planning and zoning: Attendees expressed support for development that is
compact, clustered around existing population centers, economically
diverse and mixed and urged county officials to put a master plan in place
and address zoning changes ahead of development pressure. They advocated
for a consolidated master water and sewer plan for the whole

Affordable housing: In earlier sessions, residents agreed that the lack
of quality, affordable housing is a major obstacle to attracting public
service workers and new businesses that need housing for their workers.
The County has pledged to consider including provisions in the
comprehensive plan, currently being updated, to allow higher density
housing in existing communities and to require affordable housing as a
part of large developments. Officials on both the state and local level
have agreed to encourage and support private and non-profit groups in
developing affordable housing.

Transportation enhancements: In previous sessions, residents agreed that
US 27, SR 80 and 78 and county/city roads will need improvements to handle
current and anticipated growth, and expressed a desire for sidewalks and
bike paths as well as public transportation for children, seniors and
others who do not have cars. It was noted that the Florida Department of
Transportation works with local governments to develop five-year work
plans for improvements funded by Federal, and State funds and recently
completed a Master Transportation Plan for the six Heartland Counties,
including Glades.

Natural resources preservation plan: In prior sessions, residents
expressed concern that development is reducing the amount and quality of
natural areas that Glades County residents value for their conservation
and recreation benefits and called for the highest value areas to be
identified and protected.

Access to health care: Residents were quick to note that Glades County
does not have a hospital or any doctors, nurses or pharmacies. The
County Health Department facilities are recognized as aging and inadequate
and emergency medical services are limited.

Education choices: At prior sessions, residents called for more
vocational education opportunities for local children, while emphasizing
the desirability of remaining a small school district, with small classes.

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