Tamara Sakagawa, community redevelopment manager for Lakeland since 2002, has resigned. Sakagawa, 40, oversaw the redevelopment of Dixieland, downtown and the midtown redevelopment areas.Sakagawa declined Thursday to discuss why she is leaving her job. Her last day will be April 11. — The Ledger
In that resignation, Lakeland lost the person most responsible for making happen much of what you love about Downtown, Dixieland, bicycling, the hospital corridor, the business corridor and far too many other projects to mention.
And when she didn’t have projects of her own, she listened to ideas about others.
If you had a community project in mind, she would pull out a simple notebook, ask you a few questions, take a few notes and you could leave the meeting knowing she was going to follow-up.
She knew the people to ask. She knew how to budget. Where to find the money. She knew ways to improve your project and ways to help you navigate the bureaucracy. She also knew when to tell you — “Not now. The time isn’t right for this project.”
I am sure Billy Townsend will write better about this as I am sure you’re asking “I thought he moved?” Well, Billy forgot to change the locks, and this news irritated me enough to write.
In my years in Lakeland I spent a lot of time at City Hall, covered more meetings than anyone not working there, and met quite of few of the staff. There are a few bright, unheralded stars in Lakeland City Hall, but they didn’t resign yesterday. So, understand, I’m not dunning other bright employees when I say, Lakeland lost a supremely competent, articulate, intelligent, educated, inventive and creative talent.
I count her as a friend. We didn’t always agree, and I am sure I exasperated her on more occasions than either of us care to remember. But friendship aside, she worked hard to improve Lakeland. That was always her goal. Sometimes she had to put up with politics that would cause a lesser person to slap a good ol’boy silly. But she’d be the still water and her patience would pay off.
Lakelanders, you just lost someone who helped improve your city for over a decade. Do you really #LoveLakeland or is it just promotion hype? If you really do, then demand your city officials fix the problems at City Hall. You shouldn’t suffer silently the loss of such talent.