Friday, December 15, 2000

George Mindling Column 12-15-2000 - They always stand in the shade.

A Different Area

They always stand in the shade. I met my first one by almost riding my bicycle over him. He stood and walked slowly across the freshly mowed swale as if he were agitated that I had made him move! It didn't take me long to realize that the bobcats here aren't the only thing different about Port Charlotte. There are several families of bobcats that live within several miles of Ranger Stadium.

Most of our local residents not only accept them, they have come to protect them as part of our neighborhood. People take photos of the offspring cubs from their cars the way they take photos of their own pets. Well. maybe not that close, but the thought of trapping or shooting the bobcats is out of the question. Will they be here in the next several years?

Port Charlotte is in transition. More so than the areas north of us in Sarasota and Venice, or to our south, in Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Bobcats have already lost their battle to save their environmental identity. giving way to uncontrolled commercial buildings and unparalleled residential growth.

As Port Charlotte changes from an unincorporated retirement community to a desirable location for prime earning years breadwinners. as a bedroom community for both Sarasota and Fort Myers, local service and retail support base will transform from Mom-and-Pop shops and locally owned service companies along U.S. 41. to the malls and mega-centers that dominate every high-growth residential area in the country.

Even the hospitals will eventually see a change in the more common illnesses and accidents as the population of our community gradually becomes younger.

The growth pattern would suggest a single community, stretching from Marco Island to Bradenton. It will he just like the Florida City-to-Jupiter stretch on the east coast that has no woodlands except what little was saved for parks.

Just like St. Petersburg to Spring Hill north of Tampa. You can't tell U.S. I in Homestead from U.S. 19 in New Port Richie! No doubt we will also spread west, as Englewood expands easterly toward U.S. 41. Space along State Road 776 will become as desirable as U.S. 41 as the widening is finished along with the new Myakka River Bridge.

Port Charlotte is extremely unique. We have our natural beauty, coupled with people who care about the environment and the atmosphere they live in. Our area has changed subtly in the last several years, and will continue to do so. The architecture and concern for the blending of environment with what we build is evident in the majority of building that has transpired in the last 10 years or so. But that can slip away quickly, just look at the intersection of U.S. 41 and S.R. 776.

The new complex in the north east corner of the intersection borders on barren, if not just downright ugly. Once the beautiful old oaks and wax myrtles have been bulldozed away, they will never come back. And neither will the bobcats .

George Mindling © 2000

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