Big, Bigger, Biggest

This is the way blogging works… Ledger reporter/blogger John Chambliss wrote about a Winter Haven official who chided him for calling that locale a “small city.” I left a little comment. Empirical Polk blogger Josh Hallett noted that many officials like it both ways: big city and small town. And now I throw in my two cents….

I’ve only lived here a couple of years, but already I feel like I’m back home. My first home, Chicago. Often referred to as “The Second City” since they usually finished second to New York City in many bragging matters. They’re smaller than NYC, the sports teams usually finish behind NYC, etc. etc. You won’t find many Chicago residents these days who care they’re in a city smaller than NYC. The only ones who worry about it are those who build skyscrapers (Sears Tower, Hancock Building) and the occasional city planners.

Winter Haven is Polk County’s Second City. A fact I think they should be proud of, not concerned with. Since moving here I’ve gotten the feeling we’re all in a mad rush to grow and develop all the unpaved land we find. At meetings, I hear comments like “If we don’t grow we’ll fail.” and “If we don’t develop it, someone else will.”

Grow we will, but why rush like six-year olds wanting to be “big!” It’s the small steps we should treasure. The slow, deliberate growth that will make Polk County a place where our grandchildren love to live.

As I said, I’m originality from Chicago, but Louisville became my “home town.” I watched that city center die at its heart while building huge sprawling malls. Those first malls are now dead, while the second wave of bigger malls are dying, and the third wave of even bigger malls are looking for something, anything, to bring in more customers. All that in my short lifetime.

And now Louisville is working hard to restore its downtown, and I think, why didn’t you just worry less about growing so fast, and you could have kept it?

Montreal, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago are all great North American cities, with downtown hearts and city size problems. Do we really want that? As for me, I hope we never become Orlampa, Florida’s Los Angeles clone.

I know I’m pretty new to the area. I’m still a little confused how Winter Haven, home of Polk County’s central point, could consider itself “East Polk”. Yet, I understand why the second brother sometimes has to crow just a little louder. That Winter Haven official missed an opportunity though….

I think Winter Haven should boast they have a small town lifestyle with big city talent.