SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – As development continues to grow around the Sanford International Airport, new homes and subdivisions continue to be built and that growth is surrounding Seminole County’s Historic Midway-Canaan community.
“This is what gentrification looks like,” co-founder of the Midway Coalition Emory Green said. “We may call it gentrification but there is another term that businesses and entrepreneurs call it, and they call it development and growth.”
The Midway Coalition was established in 2005, co-founded by Green who was born and raised in the community which was built for migrant workers who worked the celery fields, now recorded as part of Sanford’s history.
“Our history is unlike any other,” Green said.
Green said migrants worked the fields to produce the wealth for what Central Floridians know as celery city, the City of Sanford.
However, some of those same fields the elders who still live in the neighborhood used to work on are now foundations for new homes as 12 new developments have either broken ground or have been built in recent years and Green said he sees a difference between New Midway and Historic Midway.
“Every home in Historic Midway is on septic tanks, how does it differ? These homes have sewer,” Green said. “A lot a lot of our elders here in the community are the ones who worked in the fields, and they see what is happening on their side of the fence it doesn’t’ match what’s happening on the other side of the fence.”
It’s one reason why the mission of the Midway Coalition is to protect its history while also taking advantage of the growth to get better infrastructure for this historic community.
News 6 was in Miday as streets flooded just in December with residents’ septic tanks overflowing with winter rain.
“When the streets are flooding and you can’t flush your toilet because you have a septic tank and you have raw mess into your backyard, the $21 million we have secured is going to help resolve that problem,” Green said.”
Green acknowledged the Seminole County Commission recently approved getting millions of dollars of upgrades to the neighborhood’s current drainage system to help with the flooding, with help and effort from Seminole County Commissioner Andria Herr.
“The growth around Midway has sorted and circled it with neighborhoods that have better infrastructure than Midway, and we are doing our part to rectify that,” Seminole County Commissioner Andria Herr said. “But since I’ve been in office, we’ve committed $18 million for stormwater. '
“The commissioners have stepped up to the plate,” Green added.
However, Green wants to know all of the impacts the new growth and development is having on Midway, from sewers to streets to schools. Calling on both Seminole County and the City of Sanford to do a study, as listed in a Joint Planning Agreement signed in 2015.
“We know what the impacts are but that study needs to be done,” Green said. “Level set this and change what should have been corrected seven years ago, which we can’t go back and correct what’s already been done, you can’t put this back in the box.”
Commissioner Herr said a Water Basin Study was already done to help secure the funding for the drainage issues coming to Midway, however, when it comes to the impacts of growth, she’s not opposed to another study if the results are actionable.
“From my perspective, the days of doing studies and leaving them on the shelf need to be in our past,” Herr said. “I’d be willing to do a study as long as I can tag specific actions as a result of this study.”
“Working with Commissioner Herr and the commissioners, they have stepped up to the plate,” Green said. “It’s just important to ensure that everyone knows the historical preferences about Historic Midway-Canaan City, and it is up to us to ensure that story is told the right way.”