Manatee Matters With Commissioner Misty Servia
The Year in Review – 2021
As we prepare for 2021 to close, it’s hard to imagine that we spent another year dealing with the Coronavirus, and the Omicron variant is promising that 2022 will start with more of the same. Looking back, Manatee County did an outstanding job of fairly distributing vaccines through drive-thrus that rivaled the insane efficiency of Chick-fil-A. And that was no accident – it was intentional hard work and great leadership that made it happen.
While attainable housing is in short supply, the county saw a few hundred more units come into play – some in District 4. The Board also approved Accessory Dwelling Units and plans to kick-off a pilot community land trust project as another way of creating more attainable housing. I’m privileged to serve on the AHAC (Affordable Housing Advisory Committee) and happy to report that there is no shortage of people willing to brainstorm ideas to help address the need.
Amazon moved into south county this year and 2022 will bring even more great industry to our ‘hood. That should come as no surprise, as Manatee County has an unmatched quality of life in a world where people can work from anywhere. And, well, companies have taken note.
After years of trying, Manatee County became one of more than 70 local governments in Florida to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs. It’s a step towards helping to reduce the overpopulation of animals, which costs our taxpayers lots of dough. More importantly, puppy mills are an industry of senseless neglect, and this shift will reduce animal cruelty and help to protect our consumers from purchasing sick animals.
Redistricting was yet another major priority that was mandated – and accomplished – in short-order. At the end of the day, the decision was 4-3 to approve districts that were not largely supported by the public, but were deemed legally defensible. With that, we move ahead, and I look forward to meeting our new District 4 residents. I’ll be knocking on your door soon to say, “hello”.
Parks took a front seat in 2021. John Marble Park will be transformed with new facilities including a splash park and we should be playing pickle-ball at Kinnan Park at this time next year. (Psst – look for a park naming contest for this one, soon!) Roads too are at the forefront, and major improvements to 63rd Avenue East, between US 301 and Tuttle Avenue are in the queue. Millions of dollars made it to our Capital Improvement Plan to improve stormwater drainage in south county too – finally!
Our code enforcement team is shifting from patiently waiting for an owner to clean up their mess, to demanding compliance with the law. Make no mistake – if an owner needs help, the county will do just about anything to assist. But gone are the days of begging owners for months (and longer) to do the right thing, and our neighborhoods deserve this support.
I expect we will see major progress in 2022 for our homeless population and I am working with a team to present some ideas to our Board as one of the first priorities of the year. Let’s be real – the true measure of a community can be seen in how it treats the most vulnerable among us, and the time is now to do more.
Manatee County experienced a lot of changes this year – some more painful than others – and one thing that will be remembered about 2021 is that change is hard! While I won’t waste time on the details, it has been a year of fear and fatigue. Dr. Scott Hopes was hired on April Fool’s Day (you can’t make this stuff up) and has done a very good job of managing one crisis after another since his first week on the job; and it feels that we are on an upswing. We end the year with a deep well permit and State funding, as well as their commitment, to finally put the Piney Point disaster to rest.
I continue to be blown away by all of the good things happening around us, despite the challenges. And, I believe this is because there are so many good people and organizations who work to help others in our community. Despite the workforce challenges, the county has a strong staff of excellent and committed individuals who know that their daily efforts make our community one of the best places to live, and I am so proud of all of them. They are simply the best!
Misty Servia is a Manatee County Commissioner who represents District 4 and an AICP certified land use planner. You can reach her at email@example.com