To the editor:
Given the events of recent weeks, I am choosing to submit an unsent letter to the editor I wrote July 31, 2008. I find it ironic that almost a year later, my concerns have become reality:
“This letter is to encourage all residents of Tampa and the surrounding rural area to continue voicing their concerns about the road conditions to the County Commission and the road and bridge supervisor. The residents of Tampa and the surrounding rural area deserve a better plan of action then supervisor John Summerville’s response.
“Roads near Tampa are in dire need of major improvements, improvements that require far more than a temporary solution — which, in Marion County seems to be ‘chip and seal it.’
“It seems, through Summerville’s statements, that residents of Tampa and the surrounding rural area should consider themselves as privileged to receive the ol’ chip-and-seal solution — which, according to Summerville, will probably not be completed in 2008. If the chip-and-seal solution is not completed before the “cold weather ... stops us,” won’t the condition of the roads continue to deteriorate?
“According to the Marion County Economic Development Council, Marion County is a ‘county poised for growth ... and community development.’
“If this is the case, the Economic Development Council and the county commissioners need to examine whether this goal is being met in Tampa. In the past, the road conditions of Tampa and the surrounding rural area have been perceived as poor and inconvenient to travel, but now the roads are almost impassable.
“The economic impacts of the poor road conditions should be a wake-up call to the Marion County Economic Development Council. The business establishments of Tampa, especially Agri-Producers Inc., Cardie Oil, and Tampa State Bank, have the right to demand that the road conditions be improved.
“The Marion County Economic Development Council and the Economic Development Director need to be supportive of these businesses’ requests.
“As the upcoming school year approaches, the safety of the individuals who travel these roads should be of special concern to the road and bridge supervisor and the county commissioners.
“Damaged vehicles and flat tires are an annoying nuisance that accompany the roads surrounding the Tampa area. However, the cost of fixing flat tires and chipped windshields pales in comparison to the cost of a human life.
“How will the county road and bridge supervisor and the county commission respond when a school bus is involved in an accident caused by the unacceptable road conditions?
“In recent months, the county commission and the Economic Development Council have spent money studying the feasibility of a casino and a new jail. Now it is time to consider the feasibility of finding a permanent solution to the road conditions surrounding the Tampa area.”
In addition to this letter, I would like to ask the county commissioners and John Summerville the following question:
If your son or daughter had been involved in the recent accident, could you sit here in good conscience and ignore the conditions of the roads surrounding the Tampa area?