Fellow CPAC members,
Please accept my humble apologies for having to miss yet another meeting. I am leaving in the morning for the world championship in British Columbia. After this I have one more trip scheduled for the end of Sept. and then I will work hard to become a much more active and productive member of this committee.
I am writing this - and posting it on my blog - as a reaction to the comments the rest of you have been sending the group - which I greatly appreciate so please keep me on your mailing lists, thanks. I was happy when Nancy set up a blog for the committee and then disappointed that no one else chose to participate in it. I think it would be a great way to encourage free discussion and allow other interested members of the community to see what we are discussing and provide us with their input. For this reason I will continue to post and report on our activities on my blog, anyway.
Regarding the vision statement and Clayton's list (I wrote this part last week but was unable to e-mail from northern MI for some reason):
Basically, I consider myself a resident first and a business owner second. What that means to me is that I place great value upon the aspects of this community that make it a great place to live. Being able to make a decent living where I live is certainly high on the list of desirable attributes - but it is just one of many. For that reason, I am not comfortable with the word "resort" as Clayton is using it; i.e as the diametrical opposite of "retirement."
Yes, we are a community that sells itself as a resort to the rest of the world and yes, tourism has, is and will undoubtedly continue to be the driving force in our economy. However, I do not see "resort" and "retirement" as two mutually exclusive terms. We can attract plenty of visitors - new and returning - while still keeping SPI a place that people want to live and eventually retire to. We can preserve and enhance the charms of existing residential neighborhoods while continuing to add new resort-type amenities. We can assume that open and accessible beaches, low-impact development, and funky-beachy charm - the very same aspects that drew us here - will continue to draw new visitors and residents as well. As I see it, it our job to ensure that future growth will accommodate the needs/desires of the residents as well as those whose sole purpose in being here is to make money.
Much of what I have read in the minutes and in the e-mails sent out by committee members take the form of complaints -- that the goals are pie-in-the-sky and do not have any basis in reality. Allow me to add one such complaint of my own:
It seems to me that everything that comes from this committee expresses a strong emphasis on the goal of "year-round tourism" -- so that we can all make lots of money every single day of the year. But nobody yet has explained to my satisfaction who these tourists are or where they are expected to come from. We describe ourselves as a family destination, and as long as kids have to be in school, family vacations are going to be limited to quick weekend jaunts and the summer/winter holidays. Which leaves us with older adults who have no or grown kids. Are they likely to come to a place where the main draw is to lay on the beach or by the pool during a season when the weather can be iffy? Sure they will - at least a certain percentage will -- if the beach is quiet and clean and the rooms are a bargain. Like it is now.
I am pretty sure that "year round tourism" is synonymous with "gambling" in a lot of peoples minds, and when they ask for the first they are really asking for the latter. There is still no legal way to open a casino here and even if that should change I think you will find a majority of the people who live here would oppose opening such an establishment on this end of the island. We do not have a large, rich metropolitan area to draw these year-round tourists from and fuel is not likely to ever be cheap again. So let's please consider _that reality as well.
Other resort communities - some with much higher advertising budgets than ours - have "seasons" just like us. I am missing meetings this month because beach communities seeking to extend their summer season schedule big sand sculpting events right about now. Year-round tourism is a myth -- a carrot being dangled in front of hardworking locals to sell them on gambling. Many of us have survived and thrived on a predictable tourist season and we consider the slow, quiet times the pay-off.
Thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings. I wish you all a productive meeting tomorrow and look forward to reading the minutes.