As one of our first outreach efforts, we are convening groups of similarly-situated contributors who have an interest in Western Nassau to inform them of our efforts and to help us gather the best available data and analysis in the early stages of this planning initiative. This strategy is helpful for several reasons: it enables us to meet with and share and gather information with and from multiple organizations at one time, it enables cross-communication among those organizations, and it allows for discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing Western Nassau from different perspectives.
At each roundtable, the attendees heard about our Development Trends report, expected growth trends for Western Nassau in particular, the ULI Tap Report, and the formation of the Western Nassau Heritage Preservation Committee. We ask participants the following questions:
- What resources does your agency/department/organization have that may help us?
- How do you want to engage in this effort?
- Who do you know that we should talk to?
- Are we missing any group? What should we be thinking about in terms of data collection?
The roundtables are by no means the only outreach with groups during this effort; we look forward to scheduling follow up meetings with specific agencies and organizations relative to the data and projects they have going on in Western Nassau.
Our first roundtable was held on May 4, 2018 with state and regional government agencies at White Oak. Staff from the following agencies attended:
- St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD)
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
- University of Florida Extension Service (IFAS)
- Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN)
- Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
- North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (TPO)
- Florida Forest Service (FFS)
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
- Nassau Soil and Water Conservation District (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
We learned a great deal about state and regional agency work and resources, and participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to collaboratively come together and be involved with the effort from the beginning.
Our second roundtable was held on June 8, 2018 with County Departments including: School Board, Health Department, Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Management, Property Appraiser, Road and Bridge, Facilities, Building Department, and the Library.
Overall, the meeting was positive and an opportunity for departments/entities to collaborate outside of our silos. There is a recognition that this is not a single-department issue and all departments/entities need to be incorporating future growth in Western Nassau in their conversations.
Our third roundtable was held on June 29, 2018 at FSCJ Nassau with Nonprofit and Advocacy Organizations invited including:
- White Oak Conservation
- Ability Housing
- West Nassau Historical Society
- Trust for Public Land
- Starting Point Behavioral Health
- North Florida Land Trust
- Micah's Place
- Keep Nassau Beautiful
- Habitat for Humanity
- Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation
- Council on Aging
- Boys and Girls Club
- St. Mary's Riverkeeper
- Nassau Homeless Coalition
After this third roundtable, common themes are emerging among all organizations - especially related to transportation and housing. These two issues touch the work of almost every agency staff has talked to as part of the roundtable meetings.
Our fourth roundtable was held on July 13, 2018 with Business, Economic Development and Education representatives including:
- Nassau County Economic Development Board
- Nassau County Chamber of Commerce
- Small Business Development Center
- FSCJ Nassau
- Nassau County School Board
This meeting was very instructive with good discussion, especially in light of the recent joint Board of County Commissioners/Economic Development Board meeting in which it was agreed that a collaborative economic development plan should be pursued. The group discussed how the Western Nassau initiative would fit well with such an effort.
- Regional Councils and Neighboring Counties