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M-CORES Task Force meeting public comments (Thursday)!

Thursday (4/30) was the 3rd and final Florida Department of transportation task force meeting webinar drawing 40 public comments, 39 of which were in opposition to the roads! I took 6 pages of notes in my sketchbook, including the names of speakers (as best I could), and digitized those notes. Read them below!


I plan to send these and the ones I took on Wednesday's meeting in an email to the task force members, hopefully improving the chance they actually reach them since there is no way to know if they all remained on the call all 3.5 hours. At the very least, these awesomely thoughtful comments can have a second life here. Thank you for helping to protect the Florida Panther!!


You can still send your comments via email to the FDOT task force directly at FDOT.listens@dot.state.fl.us and write representatives and Gov DeSantis to let them know how you feel about this. For more reading on the topic, here's an article: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article238345418.html

Favorites!

"100 million dollars was supposed to be for Florida Forever, and we can't seem to find the funds for that but apparently have billions to spend on a road?"


"It's trickle downeconomics not even for just a road, but for a toll road"


"You can't “minimize and ameliorate” the extinction of the Florida Panther, the loss of springs and long leaf pine ecosystems"


"All the benefits are based on assumption, not fact, because there have been no studies. The legislature and FDOT have never been able to show that these roads are needed in all the years it has been in the planning process"


"Rural life is a type of diversity. We don't need to be saved"



Kim Wheeler from Wellington

- This was not a normal process, it passed the legislator before FDOT could study it, therefore the need for these roads is all conjecture

- She thanked Levy County for passing a no build resolution

- where is the data that a road is supposed to have? There has been no meaningful analysis

- There is no research that it will create the jobs as promised, but it will replace agriculture and open spaces at the costs of our springs, Panthers and black bears

- The farming industry is 2nd to tourism and we need to protect both

-Government representatives: repeal this road

- no build

Mark Haver from Lakeland 

- Environmental destruction will be the result of this, no matter what. 

- doesn’t want to pay more tolls

- it will urbanize the last land in Florida that is wild

- It would create urban centers where there shouldn’t be any, like gentrification but for rural areas

- public transit in places where there is congestion is a better use of out tax dollars

- no build

Whit Foster

- Land owner in Jefferson County

-Name after name is being called out in this webinar, but not many are speaking. Why? This seems like a flawed process

- The road will cause unnecessary and expansive environmental destruction

-This process it is outside the normal channels of planning

- this comic public comment process is unavailable to people in rural areas

- Will we be contacted? No one has contacted him, as a landowner, for his input

Kay Anderson from Sebastian

- spoke it both Task Force meetings before this

- a botanist in a middle school teacher

- In addition to the destruction of the long leaf pines as I stated yesterday, the roads will also impact Florida’s extensive springs, including 16 out of 39 magnitude springs (Florida has more magnitude springs than any state and anywhere in the world)

- Is concerned with the language of “mitigating” the damage when areas can’t be avoided by the road, but there is no way to mitigate the cost of the loss of the Florida Panther, longleaf pine ecosystems and the springs

- Roads are always barriers to wildlife

-A pandemic is no time to be having this discussion anyways

- no build

Willie from Hawthorne

- echos the earlier comments

- no build is the only option

- This road would destroy Florida’s urban areas, which should be protected because they are a type of diversity

- There is no need for these roads

Robert Roscow

- Won a lawsuit against the DOT recently

- Is confused about the term No Build in this context

- This process is backwards, doesn’t even have a PDNE study yet

- This process is opaque, which is contrary to the Sunshine Law. The public is not getting the materials given to task force member until after the meetings, so we don’t know what they saw

-These meetings have to be recorded

- This is a typical in runaround of the Sunshine Law

- There are so many violation, we can't afford to keep suing on each one.

- This road will cost is 220 billion, may too much money

- can understand the need for rest areas for truckers, but that can be done through improvement to I-75. We don’t need this road

Chris Costello

- With the economic crash due to this pandemic, there is no need to be rushing this process

- This webinar makes the task force members out of public view and removes public right to visually display opposition and know that the TF mambers are watching and listening

- Only 29 out of 121 comments made it through on Monday, with 28 out of 29 opposed 

- a similar number spoke in second webinar, with all opposed

- call it off now

Kim Heise (me!)

- The road in the south would cause the panther to go extinct. That's too high of a price to pay. There is no way to mitigate that kind of damage.

-These roads in the north threaten the last best chance the black bear and other long-leaf pine communities have for a healthy community. The roads go through the Fl Wildlife Corridor, Florida's only contiguous habitat.

-funds should be used for Florida Forever to acquire land

-This whole process is just a discussion of "what can we give up?". There are ample "avoidance areas" on the GIS maps, and the newly added attraction areas are all poor, rural communities with low internet access who are probably not on this call. Calling them attraction areas just means they path of least resistance, less likely to be able to fight these roads. They are being exploited for the rich and special interests, held hostage with the promise of broadband at the expense of their rural lifestyle.

Michael Scott

- Public comment via this webinar doesn't appear to work well

- We can't see if the task force is listening

- This road would encourage further development, and our pollution problems would get much worse

- There’s no congestion on the roads currently in the area, so it calls into question the need for these roads

- don't saddle poor residents with the costs of these roads, by putting them through their neighborhoods and charging them tolls for driving on them

-This road will urbanize rural areas, but rural lifestyle is a choice and we don't need to be saved

- rural local businesses will be lost to urban centers

- The idea that this road will help with hurricane evacuation is flawed, since  are supposed to be sheltering in place

- This road promises to bring broadband to rural areas, but you don’t need to build an 8 lane road to do that

Michael McGrath from Fort Myers

- The road is holding rural communities hostage by offering them broadband only if they put a toll road through their backyard

- the option to just put in broadband would be a fraction of the cost

- don't build this road

Jenny Welch from Old Town

- People’s homes seem to be left out of the avoidance Maps and I’m afraid that many would have to be torn down

- There have been no local meetings in Dixie County, and I think most people are unaware of these task force meetings

Marylee

- fossil fuels are regressive, and highway 19 isn’t even near capacity

- legislature: resend this vote on wasteful expenditure

- the money is better used for COVID, hurricane shelters

-The road will only cause urban sprawl while sacrificing the environment

Lindsay Craft from Saint Pete

- Covid has shown us how important good air quality and good local farms are

- Benefits like broadband come with too many strings attached

- thank Levy County for passing the No Build resolution

- All the benefits are based on assumption, not fact, because there have been no studies. The legislature and FDOT have never been able to show that these roads are needed in all the years it has been in the planning process

- In light of the destruction and dismantling of environment and lifestyle, color the entire area dark magenta and avoid it all

- no build

Matt Schwartz from Fort Lauderdale

- Is the director of the South Florida wildland Association

- He says: read the Nature Coast website, which touts environmental resources as it’s main attractions to visitors. Those resources that would be imperiled with this road. This road is bad for the environment, therefore, it is bad for business. 

-These are areas of contiguous natural land, and they need connectivity not fragmentation from roads and buildings

- 100 million dollars was supposed to be for Florida Forever, and we can't seem to find the funds for that but apparently have billions to spend on a road

- this will trigger a federal process, as an EIS is required + scoping comments and a range of alternatives including the no build option

Wendy from Atlantic Beach

- Is a lifelong resident

- Is concerned about the negative impact to Springs

- Has noticed that the attraction and avoidance areas intersect

- Understands that when avoidance areas can't be avoided, the state will try to “minimize and mitigate” the damage, which are vague terms open to interpretation that has historically been used to justify destruction in Florida

- Thinks the road will destroy what attracts people to Florida. The impact on the environment is also bad for business

-This process seems needlessly rushed

-No Build

Janet from Lauderdale by the sea

- Is the entire wildlife corridor on the map?

- Roads are not needed to spur economic growth. They create short term jobs

- don't indulge wealthy developers and special interests just so Bil Galvano can flex his political muscles in the Florida Senate

- no build

Oscar from Gainesville

- student of GIS geology

- in GIS, your assumptions determine the results you get

-Reject this road

-has traveled to these places and noticed people value the rural life and ecosystems. listen to these communities, they don't want it

- With COVID, people need to tighten their belts. We don’t need a 100+ billion dollar boondoggle only transportation industries want

-Do we want to be talking about rural communities and the environment in the past tense

-this process can’t be rushed

Sarah Younger from high Springs

- chair of the Saint John Sierra Club

- this road comes through my area

- Oscar is right, this presentation is a sham

- many names have been called out and many do not seem to been able to comment. It is not possible to get information and input from communities in this way. it is exceedingly difficult to get the attention of people at these times because of COVID

- reconsider the need for a roadway in light of COVID

- our rural way of life and wildlife also need to be protected

- our aquifer and land serve millions throughout the state, which this road will imperil

Karen from Wellington

- feels like we are faceless voices

- many people seem to be having trouble speaking

- no build

- is disappointed, since this road will only destroy, and you can’t mitigate or replace the Florida Panther and what else will be lost.

- is passionate about the animals and springs in the path of this road

Herman Younger

- organizer in the Gainesville Sierra Club

- We need a financial response to COVID and it is shameful to be putting special interests above others

- no build

Mindy Dickman from Miami

- Concerned with the health of the few wild places left in Florida and sick panthers. As a mother and a teacher, doesn’t want to sit by and watch the destruction of these things.

- Funding should go toward fixing out algea bloom problem. The locks will overflow again this year killing people and animals and destroying the fishing industry.

- they were broken in the 1st place by roads and canals, and here we are talking about another one

-Task Force members: read the book Priceless Florida and catch yourself up on how nature works

-NObuild

Jake from Tampa

- is an environmental scientist-  retired

- PhD from USF in ecology

- remember the Simpson monorail episode? Ya, this is like that 

- Doesn’t like that these roads were pushed through a quick legislative session out of public sight

- it has the added feature of destroying so much habitat

- Reminds him of the COVID response, legislators seem to be against public spending until their buddies want to get rich quick scheme

- the Avoidance area layers would all be magenta if it truly included everyone's input

- you're basically just deciding which springs to destroy

- it's trickle down economics not even for just a road, but for a toll road

Diana Imperi

- the areas these roads will go through are some of the last dark Sky places in Florida, destroying them. her requests for light pollution impact to be included in these discussions were ignored. Dark sky areas are a resource not only for enjoyment, but animals need darkness to thrive. It is our cultural heritage to have places to see the stares

- there is no way of making eye contact with the task force using this webinar method

- and we're losing  land at a ridiculous pace here in Florida

- People want forever Florida Forever funding, not this

- no build

Keely Sayers from levy County

- not a lot of people use US 19 it's not at full capacity

- hurricane evac plan doesn't make sense since we are supposed to shelter in place

- expand I-75, it already goes up through the state

- there are some Springs in levy in Dixie County on private properties and I'm certain those are not on the map

- it will destroy wildlife in the swanee River

- this is a horrible road that will have limited access

Susan from Broward County

- Has 5 grandkids that love the outdoors. This road will destroy their heritage and heavily impact the Suwanee Rover

- this is not democracy, people voted overwhelmingly for Florida Forever and barely any land has been acquired, but the state is more than happy to purchase land for development

- this task force webinar process increases communication for some but limits it for others

- how can people connect in areas that don't have connectivity?

- most people cannot afford to evacuate to a motel cuz they don't have the finances to stay out of state for a few days. COVID has shown us how many people live paycheck to paycheck

- instead, us the funds to create more hurricane shelters, get out more small business loans, or expand the jobs programs

Miha from Miami

- is a teacher. His students were part of the Friday For the Future movement, speaking in Tallahassee about climate change. He reminists about how Florida banned officials from even staying the word “climate change”

- according to the UN report we have 12 years to limit this catastrophe and now have 10 years left

- we are being asked to transform our societies at a rate that has no documented historical president

- this road is the opposite of what we should be doing

- Cancel this project

Kate McFall from Tallahassee

- clearly the public opposes this

- include the Wildlife Corridor on all maps going forward

John Quarton from Georgia

- is a Suwanee River keeper

- is concerned with keeping the waters clean in the basin should this road go through

- Sees there are avoidance areas on the map, but know that what we will get is the normal course of action which is to “minimize and ameliorate”, Terms open to interpretation that will cause destruction

- Where are the studies? The burden on proof that this road will not impact irreplaceable resources should be on the DOT and legislature, not on this task force of non-elected representatives and tax payers

Grand Gilward

- I like the webnar, it helps me because I can listen from home. All subsequent meetings should be both live and have this webinar access

- this whole thing is backwards, the studies are supposed to come first, not the road

- this tollroad will not pay for itself there aren't enough people to drive on it, and Crystal River and Montechello are not in the DOT plans to improve but are in the path of this road.

- In fact, the DOT has a history of projects not paying for themselves. remember the boat bridge in the Panhandle? that bridge is not paying for itself

- Suncoast Parkway is not playing for itself

- The road will also prevent prescribed burns from doing done in the sensitive lands around the road. For instance, the Prairie prescribed burn caused I-75 to close, and caused a major accident

- you can't mitigate the damage these roads will cause

- no build

Douglas from Lake City

- environmental organizer and volunteer for 30 years

- this will damage the aquifer and we will run out of fresh water

- This is a boondoggle to enrich already rich folks at the expense of poor people and the environment

- Lets have studies. This will have a negative impact on tourism 

- no build

Maxine Connor

-seconds the May 1st letter to veto the bill submitted by the Sierra Club

Neil from Tallahassee

- from the Tallahassee research station in Jefferson County. He just got a major grant for conservation and Land Management

- The area in the path of the road has as the highest state listed areas in Florida including archaeological sites

- the existing US 19 corridor is underutilized and sufficient for many years, so no build

Amy from Tallahassee

- this road will have solar power charging stations for electric cars

- it has the potential for electric rails/buses

- it will reduce pollution

- it will droop reduce the congestion on I-95 and I-75

- it will have wildlife crossings, so it will not harm the Florida Panther in any way. There are, after all, 200 panthers in the wild

- agriculture is what is killing the Panther, not roads and urban sprawl

- the road will also provide Internet

- People have said that some people can't get on because of the Internet, so she invites everyone to get off the call and give up their internet in solidarity

- Sea level rise will destroy the homes of people on the coasts, so they will want move north and in-land. I-95 and I-19 will be underwater. This road will provide the infrastructure for and is an appropriate use of public spending for this new, underwater Florida

-Build

Anna from Gainesville

- senior in high school

- has been on this call for 3 1/2 hours

- is angry

-loves the nature coast and her dad is a botanist. She recounts a sad story of how her had recently found a new iris on a roadway and when he went to research it again he found that construction on the road had destroyed the area where it was supposed to be

- if minor construction can cause destruction of rare species imagine what this road will do

- northcoast must be protected from this horrifying destruction

- no build

Ana from Gainsville

- this will cost billions of taxpayer money that we can't afford

- taxpayers will pay the tolls for the road

- public health should be a priority

- this is a waste of resources

Elizabeth Walker from Gainesville

- no build

- with covid we have the economy and employment to make a priority

- we need clean public transit not this

- we need technology that is environmentally conscious

Anne Johnson port Saint Lucie

- three year resident

- no build is the only option

- water quality will be impacted. It will destroy springs and impact our aquifer

- money would be better used for improving existing infrastructure, like septic

- we need resiliency for climate change as well

David Hastings from Saint Pete

-is a retired botanist

- the timing is flawed, we should not be doing this during a pandemic

- this is a big decision for a state and the counties as it would forever change Florida

- Is concerned that the FDOT  has not even identified a need for this road

- the burden of proof should be on the DOT 

- I moved here 20 years ago for the outdoor opportunities like springs, rivers and hikes. we need to protect our natural lands and water. this is a bad business decision to boot

- no build

Susan house

- from the Florida Voices for Animals nonprofit

- The Florida Panther is in decline in this road will cause them to become extinct and only profit a few

- no build, sides with the Sierra Club

Paula Flupa from Fort Pierce

- biologist

- So many people oppose this road and so many more still don't even know about these meetings. Where were the public notices?

- Notices a reluctance of the organizers to update the letters from the counties to the task force members

- we have the sunshine law, so this needs to be more transparent. How are the task force members even selected? Where are the studies? This process is too opaque.

- hurricane evac should be shelter in place

- this road damages aquifers, natural areas and Panthers, because roads introduce sprawl in to areas.

- no build

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