Today's Orlando Sentinel, with an eye to the deal that would shift massive rail, warehousing and trucking operations to Polk County, carried a report on Polk bloggers: 'Bloggers in Polk work to create connections'. (Hat tip to Chuck at Lakeland Local.)
Joy Townsend, communications officer for the City of Winter Haven, was quoted in the article. Apparently she doesn't cotton to local bloggers who don't share her support for building "the mother of all rail yards" in Polk County. Information from bloggers isn't always credible, she concludes. "It's another way of gossip."
Well, one person's gossip may be another person's facts. CSX Corp., politicians and developers - and spokespersons for special interest groups - are always credible, right? Especially when they are sworn to secrecy in orchestrating corporate welfare behind closed doors. So how's a lowly blogger in the wastelands of Polk to compete with their superior levels of accuracy and integrity?
Far be it from me to question Ms. Townsend's credentials as a no-gossip, all business all the time, spokesperson for the narrow interests she is paid to represent. But as a descendant of pre-1820 settlers to the Florida Territory, comments like hers make me want to hitch up the old horse and buggy, mosey on over that vast terrain to "New Orlando" (or is it "East Orlampa"?) and join her quilting bee for some old-fashioned small talk. What better way to pass the day than rockin', sewin' and spinnin' yarns?
Now, mind you, you didn't hear this from me - but here's the kind of chitchat we bloggers... uh, gossips, can't resist:
- Call it "Tamplando." Or maybe "Orlampa." Either way, that vast stretch of land between Orlando and Tampa is like a buffet table flanked by two sumo wrestlers who skipped breakfast. Eventually, planners say, these giants will gobble up whatever is closest and collide somewhere in the middle.
In fact, U.S. census figures confirm, the feasting already has started. In the past decade, the seven counties considered the interior of the Interstate 4 corridor added 700,000 residents -- much to the delight of pro-growth and business types in Polk County, that thick slab of prime real estate smack-dab in the middle.
"We like to say that Copernicus and Galileo were wrong. Polk County is the center of the universe," says Jim DeGennaro, the highly enthusiastic senior vice president of the Central Florida Development Council, based in - you guessed it - Polk County. - Kate Santich, of The Orlando Sentinel
- The Lakeland-Winter Haven-Orlando areas were among the fastest in the nation at turning land from rural to urban during the 1980s and '90s, increasing urbanized land by 92 percent, according to The Brookings Institution, which based its research on the Department of Agriculture's National Resources Inventory, which attempts to measure the actual uses of land every few years. [....]
Forecasting into the year 2050, national researchers paint a bleak picture if growth isn't managed: more clogged highways, loss of open space and aging infrastructure. [....]
The New Orlando [that would be the Old Polk County], many old-timers say, brings everything they hate: too many people, too much noise, not enough resources. - Kelly Griffith, The Orlando Sentinel
- The Orlando area has long considered freight train traffic a major traffic and quality of life headache. It wants to be rid of it. - 2005 state study cited freight traffic headaches
- Not to bore readers with more gossip, but the latest chatter on the CSX controversy comes directly from newspaper editorialists across Florida.
- And, don't forget to check the blog of Bob Gernert, Executive Director, Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce. That kind of professional gossip makes us amateurs want to hitch a rail car right out of Hub Haven.