05/23/2019 Our Voice

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Gissy plan a positive for city

Jim Gissy loves Dunnellon, and he could have taken a different route in pursuing his efforts to improve the local economy.

But he has chosen not to, because he wants to work hand-in-hand with city officials.

So now, the future development rests with city staff, the planning commission and, ultimately, the city council.

Here’s where the rubber meets the proverbial road. While there are no formal site plans, the pitch made by the executive Vice President of West Gate Resorts makes practical sense for not just the city of Dunnellon, but the entire community as well as Marion County.

If the council is serious about implementing an economic development plan, this is a major first step toward boosting the city’s soon-to-be adopted plan, and the crux of it won’t cost the city a fortune in tax dollars.

The city, and perhaps more importantly, is the residents and business will reap most of the rewards.

The council has stated it is important to support the current landscape of local businesses. By bringing in hundreds of tourists with disposable income to spend in local restaurants and shops, that’s a step in the right direction. (We are fully aware Blue Cove is against Dunnellon being a “resort town.”)

The council wants to provide more employment opportunities for youths, and this will do that by adding dozens of local jobs. Folks will not have to travel to Ocala or farther, seeking good paying jobs.

The city tax rolls will reap the untold rewards of commercial development. Part of the property Gissy wants to develop resides within the community redevelopment area (CRA). If the council had the right foresight, it would begin planning now to extend the CRA boundaries to include all of the property. The added cash flow into the CRA would allow city officials to begin taking on much-needed projects that would enhance the community.

It will also be a boon to the school district as well as emergency services. With the additional 1-mill property owners pay to support physical education, art and music classes, it’ll ensure future generations have those options still available.

As for emergency rescue services, remember everyone pays an extra penny in sales tax, which helps pay for much-needed equipment for first responders. Additional visitors means extra funds in that aspect.

Dunnellon is no longer a hidden gem, and it’s time city leaders understand we can either prepare and prosper from it, or be left behind.

A cutting-edge, environmentally friendly resort not just puts us in the game, but at the forefront of ecotourism in the central Florida region.