Time for a summit

Published 6:47 pm Friday, June 12, 2009

It’s time for a summit of the city, county and Board of Education.

The elected representatives and administrative heads of these three bodies need to iron out details for the future growth of U.S. 84 East toward the new high school and down U.S. 27 South.

A convenience store with gas pumps and a restaurant, as well as an organic fruit farm and stand, are in the works across Highway 84 from the new Bainbridge High School. It doesn’t take much to imagine how busy the stretch of highway in front of the school will look come Aug. 7, with 18-wheelers and the vehicles of parents, students, staff and normal traffic all vying for the same roadway.

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What type of impacts will growth have on road safety, traffic congestion, demand for utilities?

Local leaders are aware of what the future may bring but have yet to form any kind of proactive plan to deal with it.

Once Bainbridge utilities are extended across the highway for the new gas station, we predict at least 30 acres of existing land already zoned for commercial use will quickly be bought up by developers, just as the superstores on U.S. 27 have had magnet effects on commercial growth.

More homes are on the way along U.S. 27 South to serve growth from Florida and any real estate agent could tell you new homes will follow the new school.

City Manager Chris Hobby said the sit-down dinner meetings city and county leaders have held in the past have been productive networking opportunities. But the next time local leaders meet, there needs to be more than elbow-rubbing.

Informal, down-and-dirty discussion about the challenges and concerns that growth brings needs to be the main agenda.