As a transplant from "Silicon Valley" in California for 22 years, I have observed a tremendous transformation of our city, particularly in northern Suffolk. Growth and development are so evident that the landscape has changed.
Because the city is so spread out, there is a notion that there are two Suffolks: one in historic downtown, where the seat of city government resides, and the other in the northern end, where business is booming.
Depending on traffic and other factors, it takes almost 30 minutes to reach downtown by car. At least, that's what I've experienced for over two decades that I've been a resident here.
It's good that, in northern Suffolk, we have hospitals and medical centers, offices and banks, the city treasurer, dental offices, libraries, post offices, schools and a police station that our growing community can depend on.
Now we have infrastructure projects, like widened roads and bridges that have linked to interstate and major highways, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, industrial companies, military establishments, car dealerships and gas stations that a growing community depends on. New communities emerge as new houses and other dwellings continue to be built.
Years ago, we didn't have some of these establishments. The area was covered with trees and farms.
From an agricultural to a suburban city, Suffolk's population has increased to more than 90,000.
With the sprawling population and business boom, city taxes and revenues went up. Thus, the city's economy has improved dramatically because of growth and development.
Managed growth and development are beneficial. But when there is too much growth, it jeopardizes the environment, which is not good.
We've been hearing the news about global warming and other major issues affecting humanity, like war, terrorism, poverty, inequality, drug and human trafficking, refugees, illegal immigration, viruses and more.
This is where innovative and visionary leaders, city/urban planners and managers come to mind. They play a vital role in shaping our city's and country's future. But, of course, an educated and well-informed and involved and engaged citizenry can make a difference in what our future will be.
Managed growth and development should gear toward building bridges and community cohesiveness, along with equal economic opportunities for all residents. It should be eco-friendly. It should not be detrimental to health and public safety. It should also protect the city's historical sites and legacy.
On the other hand, there seems to be a disparity between the city's different areas.
Are we creating two Suffolks, one progressive and the other lagging behind? Or, are there revitalization projects in the works for downtown?
Is this a tale of two cities? Can the story be changed?
Managed growth and development should be a boon, not a bane, something that benefits all, that we can all be a part of and, hence, be proud of.
Suffolk's growth and development is inevitable. as its population becomes more diverse, so should its economy.
-Chris a. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at email@example.com.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Tuesday, February 9, 2016. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com