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Summit offers residents chance to quiz Manatee representatives

The summit is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Feb. 23 at the Lakewood Ranch Library.

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Could your community use a garden? Do you have a question about your utility bill? 

Manatee County staff members and Commissioner Ray Turner say they are ready to answer all questions from residents.

GreyHawk Landing's Raymond Turner took over as District 5 commissioner on Aug. 1.
Photo by Jay Heater

The county is hosting a Neighborhood Summit at the Lakewood Ranch Library 9:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 23. Only 60 spots are available and over half are filled already. Registration is required to attend. Visit, call 749-3030, or email [email protected] to register.

The half-day program offers networking before and after the Q&A session. It’s a chance to meet people from other neighborhoods and interact with county staff members. The school district, Manatee 311 and the Natural Resources Department, among others, will have booths set up. 

“I’ll allot probably an extra hour at the end of this for a Q&A if people have bigger concerns,” Turner said. “Big concerns that residents have right now are the speed of the growth, the environment, things like that. It doesn’t matter what party they vote for, everybody has those same concerns.”

Since many East County residents want to know what’s happening at Premier Park, Director of Sports and Leisure Molly White will be at the summit talking about the latest developments. She’ll discuss upcoming events and programs at other county parks, too.

The summit is open to all Manatee County residents.

Staff members with Neighborhood Connections will provide information on neighborhood grants, and Whitfield residents will talk about how they used one of those grants to buy benches that enhanced a communal space in their neighborhood. 

“The Neighborhood Enhancement grant is an up to $10,000 matching grant that we provide to neighborhoods,” Neighborhood Services Coordinator Makayla Lindecamp said. “It could be things like beautification or invasive species removal. There are lots of different categories that this grant can cover.”

In East County, Del Webb was recently reimbursed for $1,000 that was spent on supplies for its Community Emergency Response Team. 

Community partners will be on hand with information and resources. Staff members from the Community Gardens Program at the UF IFAS Extension will talk about how community gardens foster neighborly connections and promote sustainability.

After the Elwood Park Community Garden opened in January, Information Outreach Manager Bill Logan said the county would like to see a garden in every neighborhood, but it takes a commitment from the neighbors to maintain one. The county invested $150,000 into the garden in Elwood Park.

While most Lakewood Ranch neighborhoods fall under the umbrella of a Homeowners Association, a group of neighbors, for example, in Myakka City could learn how to form a neighborhood at the summit.

“We will help them become a neighborhood organization,” Neighborhood Connections Division Manager Debbie DeLeon said. “We tell people, ‘Get three people to start and designate an area.’ We work with anybody to get them organized because that’s the only way to bring about change in a neighborhood.’” 

The upcoming Citizens Academy will also be covered. It’s an old program that’s being rebooted. It offers residents insight into how the county operates. The eight-week program is scheduled from Aug. 7 through Sept. 25. 

The Manatee County Neighborhood Summit is for Manatee County residents only. Previously, the county joined forces with Sarasota to host the Manasota Neighborhood Summit. Sarasota was unable to jointly host this year, so Manatee County staff decided to go it alone.

DeLeon said the summit will be held annually and is expected to grow. 

“This is an opportunity for people to find out what the county has to offer,” Turner said. There are a lot of constituents out there that are seeking information or are concerned about certain things, and this gives a platform for them to air that.” 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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