Resurgence and Reinvention

City of Deltona, FL

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The City of Deltona, Florida is a perfect example of untapped opportunity. This is one of the last areas in Florida that can be considered underdeveloped. It has space and is currently trying – through its economic development initiatives – to bring in a greater number of businesses and improve infrastructure.
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This process has begun in earnest through partnerships with various healthcare entities to build new hospitals and assisted living facilities. Residential development is also underway, and the city is capitalizing on its beautiful surroundings. We spoke with Mayor John C Masiarczyk Sr. about Deltona’s development initiatives.

Deltona was a planned community back in the 1960s. In November of 1962, development was begun by the Mackle Corporation which was a big builder in that time. Mackle later became the Deltona Corporation. Mackle began by building sixteen planned units and subdivisions in Central and North Florida. Deltona grew from that and currently has a population close to 90,000 people. It was incorporated as a city on December 31, 1995.

Deltona is nicknamed ‘Florida’s Bright Spot,’ and the mayor cites a few reasons for this. “I have been here for over fifty years – came down from Michigan. You can’t find a better bang for your buck as far as housing costs. Originally, this city was slated to be a big retirement community, but it’s turned into a full-fledged thriving city!”

The problem with that sixties planning is that it did not allow for commercial or business growth. Deltona is now in the process of re-inventing itself and is doing some really innovative things. There have been many updates and the building of larger facilities, great parks and recreation amenities. The flurry of economic development is bringing in jobs.

Deltona is about halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, and is probably the last unsettled commercial base on the I-4 corridor. “We have a lot of land that adjoins the interstate. There are 34,000 homes here with less than five percent commercial. This is an advantage when people are looking to settle and start a business in the area. We are very eagerly supporting anybody who has a concept or an idea to move into the city.”

John is currently in his second stint as mayor. His first term lasted ten years before he hit his term limit. He sat out a term and is now back in the office for another four years.

Target growth industry
Since 2010, development has emphasized medical facilities because of the large population base and educational facilities in Deltona, and the endeavor has been very successful. An example of this is the medical services building being built by Halifax Health. Halifax purchased a large tract off of the I-4 corridor in order to provide services in the northern part of Deltona, and Central Florida Regional Hospital is planning a freestanding emergency care centre in the same area. Halifax Health is also building another facility on the eastern side of the city. These projects add to the medical services offered by Florida Hospital’s newest facility, the Deltona Medical Park that opened in September 2015.

“Halifax has a three, five and ten year plan in place in order to continue to enhance the medical facilities they are offering here. It will cover everything from OBGYN to pediatric care, which was needed. Halifax is making adjustments to its existing plans in order to accommodate some of the things that the city wants.”

This partnership is working very well. Concerns of the community are being addressed and prioritized based on need. Florida Hospital, Central Florida Regional Hospital and Halifax Health are in gentle competition with each other, but are all stepping up and working together to meet the needs of the community. The hospital and medical facility alone will bring in hundreds of high-paying jobs. The free standing facility will provide thirty jobs and for the hospital will amount to several hundred. It’s a measured approach, which will grow as time goes on.

Currently, many local residents travel outside of the city do the work that they will soon be able to do at home. Sixty or more jobs will be created by the Halifax groundbreaking, and that is just the expansion of medical jobs in that initial phase of the three year plan.

Central Florida Regional Hospital is owned by the Hospital Corporation of America. It has developed a few free-standing emergency facilities in the past and is now in the process of creating one in Deltona. With about twenty thousand young people in the city, there has to be a place where they can go when it comes to trips, falls, and other minor issues.

“It will be a standalone emergency room – for immediate care. You will be able to circumvent the main emergency room at the hospital, which is a much more time-consuming effort. The goal is to have this up and running sometime in the first part of 2017.”

Florida Hospital added to Deltona’s list of “full service medical services” with the opening of the Deltona Medical Park on another City gateway, Saxon Boulevard. This 19,000 square foot outpatient facility marked an eleven million dollar investment in the City by Florida Hospital. The Medical Park offers a variety of services, including a gynecological specialist and pediatric services from the Florida Hospital for Children. Additionally, Florida Hospital relocated all of its imaging services to the Deltona Medical Park from Fish Memorial Hospital.

Its location on four acres at the intersection of Saxon and Sterling Silver boulevards marked the beginning of commercial development for that area that now includes a Walmart Grocery as well as a medical/retail business park. The Deltona Medical Park is proving to be a good fit with the other area businesses, the Deltona Medical Center, the Deltona Senior Living at Sterling Court, and the campus of Bethune-Cookman University.

In 1995, during the city’s incorporation, it was known more as a retirement community. Mayor Masiarczyk has been working tirelessly to fill the gaps that were lacking in the original planning for the city. One of his successes is a new assisted living facility.

The Gold Choice Senior Communities: Assisted Living facility has recently been approved by the city and begins construction soon. This was something that was desperately needed in this population of ninety thousand. In the past, the elderly would have to go to areas outside of the city, and this was something that needed to be addressed. It took a committed commission to see this through.

“I applaud all of my commissioners. Together, we have encouraged this and have let the community know that we are looking to work with them to bring quality projects into the city. It’s going to be a top-notch assisted living facility.”

The importance of infrastructure
Close to one thousand new residential developments are in the planning stages, and all of this development needs a solid infrastructure to aid in moving forward. The city has an approximate budget of $155 million, and it is being used to promote health initiatives and to construct new sidewalk systems and trail projects.

“We’ve got several trails – which are big here in town – with more being built, along with sidewalks and connectivity for the people. We are trying to get everybody out of their cars and into a healthier lifestyle.”

When it comes to infrastructure, sewer water treatment is a big aspect of what the city is accomplishing. The mayor explains that it was not a matter of the sewer system being inadequate. Rather, it was planned based on the regulations of the 1960s, and so much has changed since then.

“Everything needs to be laid out differently. There are a lot of environmental concerns with, for example, the treatment of storm water and how it gets back in the system. We have to tend to our natural preserves and waterways.”

It has been a challenge for governments and cities to comply with the new environmental regulations. Deltona has gone through a huge three to four month battle to achieve something as elementary as trash collection. Some great strides have been made as part of the beautification program which also extends to the many lakes in the area.

“We have thirty lakes to preserve within our city limits. They are starting to show their age along with the impact of fertilizers. We are making more stringent drives towards cleaning them up. Even the people have agreed to tax themselves in order to help with this initiative. As a city partner, we jumped in to support their ideas.”

The mayor acknowledges that the city went through a bit of a lull a few years back when there was no city manager. Interim people were used who were very qualified, but after a few retirements, someone more permanent had to fill the void. Jane Shang became the new city manager in 2015 and works very well with the commission.

The downturn in the economy hurt Deltona, but now, there is enough financial support to move forward with many planned projects that were put on hold in 2008-2009. With someone at the helm who will be in office for some time to come, the city now has an opportunity to launch its many unfolding projects.

One such project – which will add so much to Deltona – is the new community center to be called, simply, The Center. It was originally intended to be a seniors’ facility but was amended to serve the whole community. It will be housed in a $9 million building and is in the process of breaking ground.

Mayor Masiarczyk wants people to come down to the City of Deltona to, “challenge us. We are looking for people to move in, become a part of our community and really enjoy yourself. We have the best climate in the world, a good community with an excellent educational system and good police protection and outstanding overall services. If you are interested in relocating or bringing a business down here, we would love to have you!”

October 20, 2017, 12:18 PM EDT

Wind on the Rise

In the world of renewable energy, wind power is growing fast. It is projected that 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States will come from wind farms by 2020. Offshore wind farms are a relatively new addition to the American energy market, but the technology has been well established in Europe and is now taking off state-side as well.