Since our recent post “Is M-CORES running scared?” we have new information regarding current and planned activities of those in power who want to further destroy rural Florida with unnecessary development. The current virus crisis has postponed some meetings but apparently not triggered a frenzied acceleration of activity that we know of.
The Suncoast Corridor Task Force meeting #6, scheduled for April in Lecanto has been postponed until May in a to-be-announced location, per this notice from the FDOT:
To comply with Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-83 to aggressively reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation has postponed the planned in-person M-CORES Suncoast Corridor Task Force Meeting #6, originally scheduled for April 14, 2020, to a “To Be Determined” date and location in May. Check back with floridamcores.com/events-calendar/ to stay updated with the latest information.
The Florida Department of Health provides up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/ for more information.
This is repeated information found in an earlier email which was sent on April 10 by DOT representative Torey Alston to all the Suncoast Corridor task force members:
We are evaluating how best to move forward with the important work of the Task Forces given the urgent demands we all are facing at this time and to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order Number 20-83, which is to avoid large public gatherings. As you may be aware, the Governor and Legislature extended the deadline for each Task Force report from October 1 to November 15, 2020, which provides some additional time in the schedule to accomplish the tasks identified in the legislation. We are working now to update the Task Force work plan to guide us through the next several months and define a path forward for the M-CORES process. We believe that through these adjustments we can continue to move forward with the work of each Task Force, while remaining committed to the principles of communication, consensus, and transparency.
- We are virtually delivering the Suncoast Corridor Task Force Meeting #5 with pre-recorded online modules to keep the Task Force members informed. The virtual meeting materials will be available during the week of April 13.
- To comply with the Governor’s order, we are postponing the planned in-person task force meeting in April to a “To Be Determined” date and location in May. We will be scheduling a brief web-based meeting for each Task Force during the week of April 27, where we will make presentations digitally and answer questions. The web-based event will prepare you for a “homework assignment” to gather input on data and information related to high-level needs and guiding principles.
- Task Force Meetings #6 through #9, expected to be held in-person between May and October, will focus on providing guidance related to potential paths and courses, including refining a list of priority resources for avoidance or enhancement; and reviewing early planning-level analyses of potential enhancements to existing corridors, opportunities for co-location, and closing connectivity gaps. Although the Task Force’s charge does not include recommending a specific alignment for a corridor, the guiding principles and other input data will assist FDOT as it implements the corridors through the established PD&E process (consistent with both state and federal requirements).
- The March planned Community Open Houses are postponed with the goal to reschedule these in-person events starting in May. Public engagement is vital to the M-CORES process and we intend to continue our engagement with local communities. While the Task Force as a body will not continue to meet as the PD&E process moves forward, we anticipate that each member organization will remain engaged through the robust public involvement and agency coordination process required in PD&E. Local government coordination is of highest importance, especially given the statutory requirements for coordination with local government comprehensive plans. Above and beyond the specific requirements of the PD&E process, the Department is committed to keeping all Task Force members informed of the future steps in this process and to report on how the Task Force’s recommendations are considered at each step.
We are committed to working with you to accommodate your needs during this very unusual time, so please let us know how best we may be of service in sharing the information you need and obtaining your input as your work schedule and priorities evolve. The District production lead and facilitator for your Task Force will contact you shortly to answer any questions you may have and better understand (and hopefully address) your concerns. We also remain fully committed to ensuring that the public continues to have easy access to all information shared with the Task Force and multiple opportunities to provide input throughout this process.
Public participation will be admitted in the next toll road meeting. This post from the Center for Biological Diversity makes it easy to get on the list:
Now is your chance to tell the state you oppose the proposed disastrous toll roads that will destroy Florida’s last remaining wild places.
COVID-19 means that our advocacy will be done remotely now. The toll road planning task force will be holding a virtual public meeting sometime the week of April 27. Let’s demonstrate that Floridians oppose the destruction of our agricultural lands and wild places.
The last wild areas of natural Florida need us to speak up and not let special interests profit from their destruction.
We will continue to fight back with massive grassroots pressure to stop the construction of the proposed roads to protect Florida’s future.
For the wild,
Senior Florida Field Campaigner
Center for Biological Diversity
OSFR encourages everyone to sign up for this meeting and tell the DOT representatives that we do not want nor do we need these new roads, which are not needed, poorly planned and designed to make a few people rich. While doing this, they will bring urban sprawl, heavy traffic and large influxes of people for which we have insufficient potable water. Wetlands and agricultural lands will be diminished and our rural way of life will be destroyed.
If you speak, be sure to tell the development proselytizers that there is a “NO BUILD” option to this plan. This means we can decide not to do the project, which is what many people want. The DOT people speak and act as if there were no option other than to build. This is completely wrong. The various task forces and the people have the choice to recommend NO BUILDING of these roads.
And that is what we want.
If Bill Galvano (ramrodded this bad bill through Legislature) and Thomas Peterffy (mega developer billionaire) want to turn Florida into a city, we suggest they go to Shanghai or Sao Paulo to try their luck.
Our thanks for information go to Thomas Hawkins, Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell, and Sarah Gledhill of Center for Biological Diversity.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum