By Dan Harkins
DELTONA - The planning group tasked with studying the feasibility of developing a new commerce park and business incubator would rather put its time toward a more worthwhile cause.
Jerry Mayes, the city's business development administrator, told city commissioners recently the Commerce Park and Micro-incubator Subcommittee of the Deltona Economic Development Advisory Board was tasked in February to research the idea and found a surplus of more than 1 million square feet of vacant industrial park property in just southwest Volusia County.
He told them the group's time would be better spent setting aside the commerce park study for 18 months and shifting its focus to development along the Lake Monroe shore at the south end of the city.
"We're going to see what can be done toward economic development there," Mr. Mayes said after a commission workshop where he made the request. "How can we build that area up and really make it thrive for the city. "
The city has controlling interest in just a few parcels near Lake Monroe, though. Aside from the land surrounding the seen-better-days Deltona Community Center, adjacent to the county's Green Springs Park, as well as Thornby Park at Lakeshore Drive and Providence Boulevard, much of the property between Interstate 4 to the west and the Lake Monroe Conservation Area to the east belongs in the unincorporated area of Enterprise.
For that reason, Mayor John Masiarczyk urged the group to be cautious.
"I know this could be controversial," he said, "so we're going to make sure all the partners are there from the start. ... We have very little lakefront that the city owns, so everybody will be looking very closely to what we do in that area."
Mr. Mayes said the group would seek input from all along Lake Monroe, from organizations like the Enterprise Preservation Society and Volusia Trails Association to private enterprises like Progress Energy and the Florida United Methodist Children's Home.
"The more united front we can get in getting everything together," he said, "the better."
Many development opportunities exist to support eco-tourism along the lakefront, he said, from a simple ice cream shop or restaurant to a ferry boat or more trail construction.
"With the trail system taking off," he said, "it's a selling point we really want to highlight."
Not just highlighting but bolstering those features is imperative, Mayor Masiarczyk said.
"Trails are wonderful," he said, "but without trail heads for people to stop and fix a flat, get a drink, it's going to be hard to convince people to take a trail trip."
Roy Braddy, chairman of the new subcommittee, said all players should understand the importance of the matter at hand.
"I think everybody will see that doing nothing isn't an option," he said.