Letter to the Editor: The Selling Off of Public Lands

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Our county commission is elected to make decisions about local issues that affect all of us in Hernando County. One of the commission’s most important responsibilities is governing the land we use and shaping the kind of community that we build. It is no secret that our current Board of County Commissioners has been itching to sell off public lands with the expressed desire to generate tax revenue. In our populous and growing state, every year there is less and less land available for our homes, businesses, schools, and parks. 

We must decide carefully how to use and how to protect our commons. Selling land that was designated for parks to a political figure with no opportunities for competition does not give residents confidence that the commission made this decision with the public’s interest in mind.  While that action may be an advisable direction for some select properties, it should not be done lightly or in any manner that gives the appearance of impropriety. It certainly demonstrates to the public the commission’s willingness to hollow out Hernando County — to junk it and sell it for parts. It reveals the commission’s extractive approach to governing. They use their positions to endorse policies that enrich the already empowered. 

Instead, as stewards of our land, the commissioners should do whatever they can to protect public land that can be used to enrich our communities. In a country of growing social isolation, parks and other publicly-owned community spaces better residents’ general health and wellbeing. The people of Hernando County deserve quality public spaces, greenery, and comfortable communities. As was previously written by several residents, if selling this land is the best option for Hernando County, then it should be sold in an open process that allows interested parties to make their best offer, and avoids the appearance of impropriety. Our publicly-elected commissioners should ensure that our community can continue to live up to our region’s name: The Nature Coast.

Hernando County Progressive Caucus