Last week, The Daytona Beach News-Journal continued their role as Wet Nurse to the People – a weird liaison between the speculative developers who are salivating over their lucrative involvement in the “rebirth” of Downtown Daytona – and the long-suffering citizens who are being asked to underwrite it with absolutely no input in the final product.
In dribs and drabs, we are being force-fed a rotten pablum of conceptual renderings (which some developer’s shill repeatedly reminds us not to take “too literally”) wrapped in artfully crafted soundbites and enthusiastic half-assurances that are supposed to leave us rubes giddy with anticipation.
In my view, the real players in this speculative game know the advantage of strategic rot to their bottom line – and that tactic continues to rule the day in much of the Halifax Area.
As residents become increasingly desensitized to the stagnation and decay all around them – our oligarchical insiders patiently wait for property values to reach bargain basement levels, knowing that, eventually, anything they do to turn a profit for all the right last names will be perceived by the neglected masses as “progress.”
And the ability to purchase select politicians through massive campaign contributions, mere puppets who tacitly permit important areas of our community – such as our core tourist area and downtown – to remain a blighted wasteland for decades, before allowing their political benefactors to paint themselves as Knights in Shining Armor who rescue us from the resultant degradation, is obvious to anyone paying attention.
Yet, it seems our struggling newspaper of record remains oblivious to the role they have been forced to play – or the fact so much of the dramatic splendor they are reporting will come still relies almost exclusively on the proposition that the glass and steel catalyst – the new Brown & Brown headquarters – won’t be just another insurance building. . .
However, it looks like we’ve finally got a new (and long-awaited) player in the game.
On Sunday, we got a glimpse into the refreshing new mindset of our “Tourism Gurus” in the form of a Community Voices column by Bob Davis, President for Life of the Lodging and Hospitality Association of Volusia County.
In Mr. Davis’ thoughtful piece, “Give Daytona Beach a grand entrance to be proud of,” he speaks to the interminable wait of residents and small business owners who have suffered with the abject blight and dilapidation that is our main gateway – East International Speedway Boulevard.
While I disagree with Davis’ assertion that “We have a top product,” I wholeheartedly concur that the “vision” which allows the City of Daytona Beach to spend millions of dollars tearing up one traffic lane on Beach Street – while remaining totally blind to the immediate need to do something, anything, to improve East ISB, at least until the long-promised revitalization begins, seems incomprehensible.
In my view, what Mr. Davis has (no doubt inadvertently) called out is the Halifax areas continuing problem with economic favoritism – and this patently unfair “system” goes far beyond Beach Street or the ruins of East ISB.
Because what His Royal Highness King J. Hyatt Brown and the other uber-wealthy insiders want, they get.
But it’s a different story when We, The Little People attempt to have any substantive input into the future composition and economic viability of our area.
We didn’t want a roundabout at A-1-A and East ISB – but we’re getting one. Eventually. . .
We said no development on the scenic Loop – but Toscana and Plantation Oaks are now a reality.
We said no to a half-cent sales tax increase because we didn’t trust our current powers that be to live up to their fiduciary responsibility to administrate the windfall in a manner that would improve our wholly inadequate transportation infrastructure and utilities in the face of crushing sprawl – yet, our elected elite and their handlers continue to push for a new referendum.
We asked that our sensitive wetlands, aquifer recharge areas and threatened natural water supply be protected – even as the bulldozers roared to bring Mosaic and the faux beach community, Latitudes at Margaritaville, out of the pine scrub.
All while the future of our voter-approved Volusia ECHO and Volusia Forever environmental, heritage and cultural protection programs are used like bartering chips by our elected officials.
And the list continues. . .
I doubt President Davis and I see eye-to-eye on much of anything.
But it is refreshing to see our languishing hospitality industry finally asking the difficult questions on why the greater needs of many – like civic beautification and improving the “brand” – are consistently subservient to the wants and whims of a few well-heeled opportunists with a profit motive.
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal