In my 11 years with the East County Observer, no single decision has carried as much weight as the one of whether Lakewood Ranch should become its own city.
It’s one that would change much more than the way you write your addresses on an envelope. It would revamp completely the local government structure making decisions for our community. It would alter where your tax dollars go — and how they would be spent. It would carve an irrefutable line between Lakewood Ranch and the rest of the East County community.
And yes, to a much more sentimental extent, it would give permanent identity to those who live within Lakewood’s limits.
Most of the folks I’ve spoken to since the idea surfaced in 2007 still are unsure of whether they support or oppose incorporation. Both the pro-incorporation group — the Incorporation Study Committee — and the anti-incorporation group — the Friends of Lakewood Ranch — have worked to sway the undecided with plenty of well-prepared and researched information and data. Both have significant points to consider, and both only want what is best for Lakewood Ranch and its residents.
So, it is with great honor that the East County Observer presents the Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Debate next Monday. This will be the first time residents will have a chance to hear both sides at the same time. Both will be challenged to answer questions we feel will help you determine where you stand, and the debate also will feature some questions submitted by readers and audience members.
And although we will work to ensure the debate is as accessible as possible, please know the incorporation topic is extremely complex. We do urge you to visit both group’s websites as well as read the proposed city charter. Also, you will find an archive of our own coverage on our website, YourObserver.com. Just search for “incorporation.”
Should incorporation land on a ballot in the future, you ultimately will be responsible for making this decision for our community. Take the time to hear both sides now so you will be prepared in that polling booth to ensure Lakewood Ranch grows according to its residents’ wishes.
Submit your incorporation questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The East County Observer Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Debate
WHEN: 7-9 p.m., May 9
WHERE: The Polo Grill and Bar’s Fête Ballroom, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Main St.
DETAILS: Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Light refreshments will be available. Attendees will be asked to hold their applause.
INFO: Executive Editor Michael Eng, 755-5357, Ext. 402 or email@example.com