Stuck in the Middle with You

In today’s Ledger is a quote from one of Polk County’s State Senators, J.D. Alexander:

The eastern portion of Polk County has nothing to do with the Tampa Bay area, Alexander said.

“People in eastern Polk County – Winter Haven, Haines City, Poinciana, Lake Wales – shop in Orlando, not Tampa, and they fly out of the Orlando airport. They don’t have anything in common with Tampa,” said Alexander, of Lake Wales.

Now, the center of Winter Haven is about 46 miles from the center of Orlando. It’s about 51 miles from the center of Tampa. That’s not enough to even matter. Personally, I’d like to see Polk County develop as it’s own authority, but we missed the boat. I understand there was a time when Lakeland and Orlando were similar in size, but those days are gone. Tampa and Orlando are two behemoths on either side of us. We should have representation on every commission, research delegation, focus group, and meeting that centers on either city.

This isn’t an either/or proposition. This isn’t a time to reopen East/West divisions in the county. Tampa and Orlando are very different approaches to growth and we need to be a part of how each grows toward us, or they’ll surely grow over us.

So, why did Alexander unilaterally move Polk County out of the Tampa Bay Transportation Authority? I can’t read his mind, but here’s another couple of paragraphs from the Ledger article:

In an earlier interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Alexander said that Polk should develop ties to inland counties south of it. Those counties are not part of any proposed authority.

The newspaper has reported that the southern counties include several tracts of land that Alexander owns or controls, and they lie in the path of the proposed Heartland Parkway toll road.

I’ve got a song stuck in my head now… Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you..