Guest Columnist Charley Williams
“The earth is common ground and…gradually the idea is taking form that the land must be held in safekeeping….” E.B. White, 1942
There is growing support state-wide and throughout our local communities for the adoption of a formal land ethic.
Each of us has become witness to challenges never before seen in the Sunshine State. Our beaches and shores are blighted with sea-rise and algae bloom. Climate change spin-offs have brought us increasingly violent storms like Irma. The storms, combined with pollution and over-building, are shortening the life cycle of our tree canopy, which is the critical factor in cleaning the air and protecting us from the sun.
Parks are on Life Support
City and county park lands are vying for survival with the exponential growth now occurring in Central Florida. Cities and counties do their best to balance competing demands for passive vs active use of park lands.
Still Not Safe to Get Out of the Car
Central Florida continues to head the list of the most dangerous communities for pedestrian and bicycle safety. Here in Winter Park, greenspace connectivity is increasingly cited as the single most important step to renewing our pledge to sustain the character of our community.
Green Assets = $$$
While open green lands cannot be measured solely in economic terms, parks and green space are invaluable assets as a marketing tool for our city. Proximity to parks has been proven to increase property values. What’s more, protected park lands do not require costly, full-blown municipal services such as water, sewer and schools.
Momentum is Building
This conversation has been gaining momentum since 2014, when Amendment 1 — known as the Florida Water and land Conservation Initiative — to increase spending for natural lands acquisition programs like Florida Forever passed with an overwhelming majority.
WP Needs an Integrated Plan
Locally, this vision for an integrated plan for greenspace connectivity within our urban core resonates with citizens of all walks of life. It embraces our often-discussed concerns for a healthy tree canopy, a vibrant, connected system of parks and greenspace, an appreciation for scenic beauty, designated quiet zones, family enjoyment, outdoor recreation, community enrichment and sustainable local native habitats.
City Leadership: Join In
I would urge our city and community leaders to take this trend a step further. The time has come to clearly define and articulate a Land Ethic for all of Winter Park. It will serve as our guide for future decisions as well as the definition of our responsibility for this generation and the next. It’s time to stop talking and pledge to take action.