A visionary: thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom (Merriam-Webster). The Collins English Dictionary says if you refer to someone as a visionary, you mean that they have strong, original ideas about how things might be different in the future, especially about how things might be improved.
Visionaries step out of the lines. They look at what others deem impossible, or what “won’t happen in our lifetime” and they see the end result and make a plan to get there. When a project seems too big to make happen, they break it down to bite sized pieces and make it work. They are what moves towns forward. Visionaries have patience and know that projects happen one brick at a time, but they also know that sticking to the plan is the most important part. They don’t lose sight of the desired result.
Navarre needs visionaries. We need people who believe in Navarre. Currently we have those in supposed leadership positions such as a business “chamber” “CEO,” TJ Goulet, and an elected official, Rob Williamson, who believe that the vision for Navarre is more storage units. In an email to all commissioners, Goulet wrote:
Dear Commissioners, I am writing to you in support of the proposed Storage Facility on Hwy 87 in Navarre. Many folks seem to be pushing back on this idea because of some unrealistic vision of a walkable downtown district that is 3 miles long on Hwy 98 and runs up Hwy 87 for 2 miles. But that just isn’t in our near future and possibly never going to happen. And if it should happen at some point, I am 100% confident that market forces will be brought to bear that will see this property be sold or renovated to access the more profitable opportunities that may exist. But to force this property to remain vacant on the hopes that this downtown nirvana will come to pass in our lifetime or to force unnecessary and unreasonable expenses on the developers to build a building that would not match another single building on 87 (because none that I know of meet the “Heart of Navarre” requirements) is harmful to our local economy and the county’s bottom line.
Williamson clicked “reply all” meaning he was communicating with all commissioners outside of a meeting about a county issue – “Well said TJ! Lane doesn’t know how to do anything halfway. I have no doubt it will be an asset to our growing community and a success. As long as he doesn’t paint a Gator logo on the side, we’re good.”
All signs point to the fact that our current District 4 commissioner and some of his supporters have no vision – and neither of them are homeowners in Navarre. It leaves them blind to what Navarre could be – but you must step outside the lines, look, imagine, set a plan and make it happen.
That kind of planning invites business to Navarre – ask Quint Studer. After revitalizing downtown Pensacola, he is now planning communities and strengthening towns in other states. Why? Because it works, and he has mastered it. It isn’t just lip service.
Our commissioner has a plan for himself, a vision for his future, but he is too busy with that vision to have one for Navarre. We are going to have a $7 million park…on a six-lane highway with a flyover…is that vision? We are going to have another storage facility right in the Heart of Navarre…is that vision? We have no real preservation of green space…is that vision? We were unprepared for growth…is that vision?
While we don’t hear any big ideas coming from our commissioner, we are grateful for at least one visionary we know of in Navarre – Phil Babiak. He is the broker/owner of Century 21 Island View Realty along with Ira Mae Bruce. He developed most of what we have today and he is still working for our future. He has shown three options for relieving the traffic of Highway 98 – who is listening to him? Is his plan “unrealistic” or “probably never going to happen?”
CEO of the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Tamara Fountain certainly has a vision and it is one that moves us toward a downtown. She sees that it can be done and is ready to do the hard work. The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is moving businesses forward under her leadership.
Maybe Mr. Babiak should make a large contribution to the commissioner’s campaign to be heard. Seems that is what all the other developers, bidders and future developers have done to have a slice of the pie. They are hoping to buy his vote and support. They certainly aren’t buying into his vision – because – he doesn’t have one, or a dream either. As the adage goes, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Thanks for nothing.