I’ve never been short on opinions. That’s why I am more than willing to lend my ideas to Charlotte County government and Punta Gorda City Council in their search for a vision.

Charlotte County government is sponsoring what it calls “visioning sessions” to allow the public to give input on what we need more of here. The next session is 6 p.m. today at Tringali Center in Englewood. The campaign for ideas is sponsored by the Community Development Department and tonight’s event is the second of five that are planned.

Meanwhile, in Punta Gorda, the downtown merchants and City Council are trying to figure out how to get more businesses to beef up Marion and Olympia avenues (and other locations). They are asking where to put more businesses and what kind of businesses would be successful.

Well, that’s easy, so we’ll start with Punta Gorda.

The City Marketplace property has to be developed and soon. That is where you can put new shops and restaurants (if we need more?). Everyone (including both City Council candidates) seems to have the same idea that we need shops and then apartments above them along with green space and maybe an amphitheater. Let’s go up four or five stories. Developers can sell condos to make back their investment.

And what type of shops? Well, a few of the normal tourist places but also some nice clothing stores, a shoe store maybe. Perhaps some unusual crafts or shops that sell stuff you can’t find at the mall.

But, the number one need for downtown Punta Gorda is — drum roll please — a dance hall. A place where both young and old can go, have some food and drink and dance until at least midnight. Let the older folks, like me, come dance to oldies, Motown etc., until their bed time and then turn the dance floor over to that electric mix kids love nowadays. This is a proven successful formula at a lot of venues.

Now, how about Charlotte County?

I think Charlotte County has done a nice job giving people what they want. We have some great parks and recreation centers. The renovations at the Port Charlotte Beach complex will be nice and if the penny sales tax passes it looks like we will get a new pool there.

But there are always things we could use, albeit many of them commercial projects the county can only recruit, not build. Top of the list — and one of the more popular items on the penny sales tax wants — is a parking garage at the events center in Punta Gorda. Now some folks may think it will be less than beautiful but it can be landscaped and designed to look nice. There is no doubt how bad we need it.

We need some nice-looking, affordable apartments. There are plenty of locations we could utilize to satisfy the not-in-my-backyard crowd. This is a must if we are to keep and attract the workers we need to repair our homes, build our homes, work in our hospitals, etc.

Hopefully the Lost Lagoon people will really get moving on the water park project. If not, we need a kids amusement park. Or, at the very least, how about a miniature golf course?

I’m done. All we have to do now is get to work.

John Hackworth is commentary editor for the Sun newspapers.


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