By Dan Harkins
DELTONA - At least once a month, Paul Walsh and his wife, Marie, head from their home in DeBary to the 34-acre Green Spring County Park overlooking Lake Monroe. The morning stroll through the verdant woods never seems to get old.
A water taxi ride from the metal docks there to the Sanford waterfront, that thin line of buildings on the horizon to the south, would be a nice addition to the routine, they said.
"We decide where to go as we're leaving, on the fly, and you never know where that will be," Mr. Walsh said. "Throw in a water taxi over here and there's a big reason to make it here more often."
The taxi service idea was among several envisioned by Sanford and Deltona leaders as the two municipalities agreed to become sister cities in recent weeks.
Deltona Mayor John Masiarcyzk, who called the effort "hands across the pond," said the service would bolster development efforts in both cities and cost half as much than if just one city tried to implement it.
"What we're trying to do is put things in one another's minds and pick each other's brains about what's important for our future," he said. "We understand, with the economy the way it is, that neither one of us is in a position to spend a lot of tax dollars right now, but it's good to be ready when we are."
In the absence of a formal downtown Deltona, he said, this service could help to solidify the city's scenic Lakeshore Drive area as more of a destination. Sanford has already begun to spruce up its waterfront in an effort to increase traffic there.
Mayor Masiarcyzk said it's too early to tell how much a water taxi would cost.
"This is another avenue of working together for the future," Mayor Masiarcyzk said. "Both sides benefit. It's not something that would work if one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing."
City leaders envision several efforts being bolstered with a sister city partnership. The two cities' burgeoning trail systems could merge, allowing cyclists or hikers in one city to continue their explorations on the other side of the lake.
Development efforts along both shores could also be spurred along with the addition of more potential visitors. The nearby SunRail commuter rail line has also been discussed as a point of mutual interest.
Sanford Commissioner Mark McCarty said he understands why the water taxi idea has gotten the bulk of the attention, though.
"We've spent a lot of money on our riverfront area," he said. "That water taxi would bring more people in to see what we've done. Say you could jump on that and buzz over to our city and have something to eat without getting in your car. That's $4 a gallon you can spend on something else here in town."
The two commissions are expected to keep meeting in the coming months to set in stone some of the ideas that, heretofore, have just been talk. It's hoped, Commissioner McCarty said, that the regular conversations will result in a tangible relationship.
"We'll be keeping each other in the loop now," he said, "just like any good neighbor would."