Congratulations to Gov. Scott on rail ruling 03-11-11

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Column by Jim Clark

Last week exposed me to a lot of Central Florida news, particularly the high speed rail. I spent four days in Lakeland, which is the heart of the fight for the rail money, as the mayor there joined with Orlando and Tampa to try to get the money the feds were offering.

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the plan, was challenged in court by a couple of legislators, and won that battle, as the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that he had the right to reject the funds.

I applaud that decision. If a private company wants to build a high speed rail line, let it. But government should not be involved in this plan. I said last year that I didn’t think anyone would ride this thing once it was finished, and I stick with that.

There was talk that the rail line would run down the middle of the Interstate. But in Lakeland, I-4 is about three miles north of downtown, which is where the current Amtrak station is located. So what happens to that line? Is it just abandoned? Who knows?

Thankfully, we’ll never find out.

We see a lot of this, people who want government to step in and run everything. Here in Marion County we currently have the discussion over Silver Springs Attraction.

Trust me, if Silver Springs were a viable entity, some private company would get into it and run it to make a profit. But private companies aren’t doing that, and they’re doing it for a reason. They know that this is a dying attraction with little future.

The argument used in both of the above cases is that jobs would be created. But for how long? What we need are more permanent facilities with good futures. Of far more importance is the county’s planned development of what is called the Magna property, off U.S. 27 just east of the Interstate. An industrial park would bring the right type of business to our county, with long-term and, in some cases, high paying jobs.

Stan McClain, County Commission chairman, is scheduled to speak at the State Road 200 Coalition on Monday. It might be a good idea for people to go out there and find out exactly what he has planned.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.