SANFORD, Fla. - It's called "Imagine Sanford," and the idea sounds simple enough. Let the residents and not newspaper and TV headlines determine the future of this city.
Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the city of Sanford has been the focus of national headlines and the negative image that goes along with it.
But city leaders are working hard to change that, hoping to turn Sanford into a destination city.
"It gives me goosebumps thinking about what the next ten years are going to be like," said city commissioner Mark McCarty, "and I'm so proud to be part of it."
McCarty is one of Sanford's biggest cheerleaders. He said the city can get past this chapter in its history by learning from the past and getting the word out that Sanford is a city in transition.
Part of that transition includes "Imagine Sanford," a program to encourage residents to give their ideas for what the next chapter in Sanford's history will look like.
Over the past months, workshops have been held that stress the four C's of Culture, Character, Connectivity and Commerce. Residents were asked to rate future projects in terms of their priority.
Some of the projects in the pipeline include street beautification along Sanford Avenue and the extension of River Walk westward.
Commissioner McCarty points to the future Sunrail station, international airport, economic potential and shoreline location as a solid foundation for Sanford's future. He said all the elements are in place to make Sanford a destination city.
New police chief Cecil Smith agrees. He's been hitting the streets with an aggressive campaign to open dialog between his department and city residents.
"No matter what happens in this case, this is our city," Smith said. "We are going to be the ones who will have to be here to continue the process, continue building relationships."
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