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Officials plan future improvements during Visioning Day

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By Lindsay Edmunds

Representatives of numerous government agencies, as well as elected officials, stakeholders, and partners gathered at the Cedar Key Library where the City of Cedar Key co-hosted the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Visioning Day, which included a tour of the Cedar Key community.

Representatives of the USDA, along with several Cedar Key City Commissioners, members of the Cedar Key Water and Sewer District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Department of Environmental Protection, Cedar Key Aquaculture Association, Levy County School Board, Levy County Commission, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, IFAS Aquaculture, as well as representatives of various other entities were present for the event.

Sue Colson began the day by welcoming the guests and stating that, “Each one of us has a vision for Cedar Key, and when we leave here today, I hope that each of you will have a vision too.”

After a brief overview of the plans for the day, the group began their guided tour of the community in classic Cedar Key style – in golf carts! Shawn Stephenson made the island atmosphere even more prevalent by having a few people ride in his boat (which he hauled behind his truck on a trailer) for the extent of the tour. The purpose of the tour was to highlight the present needs of the city as well as the successes of previous partnerships and projects.

The first stop on the tour was outside the Cedar Key Library, where Greg Lang, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Director, pointed out that the community needs support for the revitalization of downtown as well as the Cedar Key Village project. After boarding the golf carts and boat, the group proceeded to the second stop on the tour, which was the historic Lutterloh building. Here, Lang discussed the community’s wish to add a maritime and fishing heritage museum. At the next stop near the school, the need for a youth and adult center was discussed. The next stop highlighted the need to reconstruct and create new workforce housing units.

Throughout the tour, the group was made aware of the poor condition of some of Cedar Key’s roads. At another stop, Lang discussed storm water problems, as well as the community’s wish to make repairs and renovate the historic lighthouse at Seahorse Key. The golf cart procession then stopped outside the marina to take note of the state of the boat ramp, as well as the docks on the inside marina.

Lang pointed out to the tour participants a previous success story--the kayak launch and the City Park. The next stop highlighted the city’s need for improvements and repairs in the water treatment plant, along with other improvements in the water and sewer infrastructure.

After the tour, participants were treated to “a taste of Cedar Key,” in the form of lunch catered by the Island Room. During lunch, Leslie Sturmer gave a presentation titled, “Welcome to Clamelot,” which outlined the development of the clam industry in Cedar Key. In her presentation, Sturmer discussed the various facets of the industry, and also talked about the positive economic impact the clam industry has had on the community.

Following Surmer’s presentation, Roy Norton of Suncoast Community Partners spoke about the Cedar Key Village project. Next came a discussion forum lead by Greg Lang who gave a presentation that formally delineated the community’s needs.

This presentation was followed by another discussion forum in which representatives of the USDA, as well as other key officials, discussed the programs available that could help meet the needs of the Cedar Key Community. Tresca Clemmons discussed multi-family housing programs, as did Daryl Cooper for single family housing programs. Bruni Robles then spoke about business-cooperative programs, followed by Michael Langston, the USDA Community Programs Director, who discussed water and waste disposal, and stressed the importance of prioritizing the city’s needs and organizing them into individual projects.