Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

In Nokomis, Better Doesn't Mean Bigger

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

In Nokomis, Better Doesn't Mean Bigger

Article excerpt

REVITALIZATION: Local improvements designed to keep small-town feel

Nokomis is a community of people who have better things to do than put on airs.

Almost 15 years ago, when told they could come up with ideas to revitalize their town, the top of their wish list was sewers.

Residents, many with low to moderate income, have long been attracted to this community just south of Sarasota by something as rare as a tourist with unbaked skin -- the ability to enjoy a true Florida lifestyle at a bargain basement price.

"It's a chance for somebody of limited resources to get a place on the water," says Bruce Dillon, chairman of the now-defunct Nokomis Revitalization Committee, who worked for years to translate the people's wishes into a popular plan.

When some communities have the chance to revitalize, they look for ways to bring in bigger and better -- more winter residents, waterfront hotels and fancy restaurants.

Nokomis, on the other hand, focused on ways to improve the quality of life for the people who already call it home.

"Families of folks who came here 50 years ago are still here," says Dillon.

The multimillion-dollar plan, forged through 11 public workshops in 1999 and 2000 and updated in 2010, was hashed out by about 40 civic associations' members.

Some people objected to parts of the plan that called for an arts and office district that would attract more people to the area.

The people are OK with some economic development, as long as code enforcement limits the size and scope of any projects.

For the past decade and a half, crews have worked at bringing the plan to fruition. Most of the priorities have been accomplished, although some sidewalks have to be built and a few sewer lines are still going in. But the work is almost over.

For those who have lived there for years and know the land like a sweetheart's face, the differences are striking. …

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