by Mayor Trace Cooper
IN JANUARY THE Atlantic Beach Town Council meets for a day-long planning retreat. We use this time to focus on our big picture objectives and set goals for the coming year. Regardless of the nature of an organization – be it a business, a sports team, a government – this kind of strategic planning is important to success.
The town is currently executing on many different plans. We have a multi-year storm water plan. We have a bike and pedestrian plan. We are currently updating our town park master plan. We have a plan for town branding and for maintaining and upgrading our water system. Our land use, zoning and development are controlled through the plan in our Unified Development Ordinance, which is also going being updated. We are working with our neighboring beach towns, the county and the US Army Corps of Engineers to update our plans for healthy beaches. And, we have local, regional and state-wide plans for transportation infrastructure.
All these plans and others are what we refer to on a daily basis to effectively and efficiently transform the ideas in each of these plans into action. But, these item-specific plans are not the big-picture, strategic planning referred to above. If an organization doesn’t keep an eye on the big picture, it can find itself living the old cliché about not being able to see the forest for trees.
Our council’s planning retreat is when we take a look at the big picture to make sure all of the town and staff actions are coordinated to move toward our strategic goals. I would like to use this space to share the vision for the future of Atlantic Beach developed through input from citizens’ surveys, our town council and other citizens’ committees as well as through conversations with residents and visitors.
The future of Atlantic Beach should look a lot like our past, only better.
We should be a small-town beach where there is more sand than condos. But, there should be a vibrant commercial core and the right amount of hotel, vacation rental and multi-family development to support cool local businesses and our tourism-based economy as a whole.
At the same time, the single family nature and character of our cottage districts should be enhanced. And, it should be easy to walk and bike between all areas of town – once you get to the beach, you shouldn’t have to get into your car until it’s time to head back inland. There should be plenty to do for children and their parents alike. A putt-putt course should anchor a great looking town park with amenities for kids of all ages. There should be a boardwalk, a Circle, where music and dancing are more than just memories.
The future of Atlantic Beach should reflect our past and all the great small-town, Southern things that we love. The future of Atlantic Beach should also embrace the future of a state that is now known as a hub of innovation, great food, culture and the arts. Atlantic Beach should be a place where summertime memories are made for future generations of our own families as well as new families that have yet to discover how special this place is. It should be a place where the old and the new work well together.
The future of Atlantic Beach will look a lot like our past, only better.