I have to thank my sweetheart, Amanda for kicking my butt into better dental health, especially since I’m a Type 1 diabetic. Now, I’m using an electric tooth brush and a water pick. I’ve lost some gum along the way but I’ve never had a cavity. I’m 39 years old and just now considering braces. I’ve got all my wisdom teeth, plus at least one up front, which need pulling.
I could have prevented some of these problems if I’d actually taken care of them sooner. Hopefully, Santa Rosa County and the city of Milton won’t wait to see the dentist about its center of wise decision-making — the courthouse.
Two weeks ago I asked readers to consider what they would like to see replace the courthouse. Today, I’m encouraging leadership to start those discussions sooner rather than later.
What I’m not doing is chastising the county or the city for not having this plan in place yet. With the county poised to share the master site plan for the new judicial center next week, as well as continuing to face residents’ demands for infrastructure solutions, the county has a lot on its plate.
Meanwhile, the city council has been working on its $31 million project to move its wastewater treatment plant to East Milton. This is when council members aren’t arguing about who sits on what board, handling conflicts over Main Street Milton, and scouring the former-mayor-turned-embezzler’s name off the Milton Community Center.
So I ask the commissioners and council members, do we want to wait another 20 years to make a decision on what ostensibly is the “old courthouse?”
Speaking of arguing, those who follow the local politics, especially the city of Milton, know our public servants aren’t afraid to disagree with one another, call each other out and even walk out of meetings. Now, the motives behind this contention may be questionable at times, but we all know it happens. We can expect the same when it comes to the dilemma I’m putting forth here.
The new occupant across from the Imogene Theatre will have a ripple effect on the Willing Street and Highway 90 businesses, the (oft neglected) residents and businesses outside of the Historic District, the rest of the city and on out to the county as a whole. Let’s hope it’s a positive one, because demolition of the old courthouse could have an economic impact itself, depending on how long crews are slowing traffic and changing minds on where to eat and shop. And if downtown law offices empty to move closer to the new courthouse, that will be opportunity for new business — complementary to the big question mark — to move in.
So let’s start those arguments now, before an opportunity for growth becomes a festering cavity.
Aaron Little is the editor of the Santa Rosa Press Gazette and the Crestview News Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org