I’ve become one of those people who give directions by telling people where things used to be. Usta be.

When we moved to Milton in 1995, I drove around in my car to learn the town, the streets. I would take off in some random direction, into a neighborhood or side street to get lost and find my way out. But every time I did this, I came out on Stewart St.

Then I would ask someone for directions and they would say something like, “Well, go up Stewart St. from Caroline, to that corner by the school…you know…turn at that little building that used to be a pharmacy.”

? What?

But after 18 years in Santa Rosa County, I’m the one that remembers where things “usta be”.

Let’s take a look at what has changed in 18 years.

Grocery Outlet usta be Piggy Wiggly. Now there is Piggly Wiggly in East Milton, on 87 South in a building that usta be a air conditioning company, I think.

The hotels in that area, and the gas station and the Waffle House are all new since my arrival.

Walgreens at Hwy. 90 and Dogwood Dr. usta be a little gas station. There were tiger lilies that grew by the road in the ditch there.

The Chinese Buffet that usta be in Six Flags Shopping Center usta be an Eckerd Drugs, then it moved to where CVS is now. Then it became CVS.

The County Administration Complex behind McDonald’s usta be a shopping center.

The Tractor Supply property was a field of grass where, every now and then a little carnival would set up and offer rides and games like the fair.

There was a little old house in the grassy area between CVS and Tastee Freeze. And behind the Pizza Hut, there was a small encampment our local homeless residents set up – now it’s where the west side parking lot to LaHacienda is located.

There was a Dollar General in Six Flags Shopping Center, but it caught fire. All of the  Dollar Generals are new since my arrival here.

Down in Pea Ridge, where Target is, there was undeveloped land with tall pine trees. When Hurricanes Erin and Opal came into town in 1995, they made an impact on the tall trees there. When you drove past that area and looked over, it was obvious the hurricanes came in at different spots in Santa Rosa by the way some trees were permanently bent, leaning in one direction, and others leaned the opposite way. To me, it always looked like giant dinosaurs had walked through there and bent the trees. Now it’s the Target plaza parking lot.

Of course, that entire area around Bell Lane down to East Spencerfield has been developed. Bealls Department store near Parkmore Plaza is where Wal-mart usta be. Delchamp’s Grocery store usta be where Big Lots is now.

There was talk one time of the land where the Navy trains helicopter pilots in Pace, Spencerfield, becoming commercial - a shopping mall. I drove by there last night and looked at the sidewalk. $664,000 sidewalk…and wondered if maybe there isn’t another reason the county is putting the sidewalk there. Official reasons are citing health and promotion of community in the area – a link for neighbors. But it sure would make a nice mall area. The original talk of development there included a land swap with the Navy – putting the training out further north in more undeveloped areas, so the County could pursue commercial ventures. I’m not sure if the Spencerfield Roads could handle the traffic it would bring, but the truth is, there are so many incoming streets to Spencerfield, one road would not be forced to carry the brunt of the traffic.

Just food for thought…

(FYI...County officials say a citizen's action committee actually started the discussion that resulted in the sidewalk installation.)

Originally published Nov. 2, 2013