Submitted by Jack Schenck – City Commissioner|Lake Butler
LAKE BUTLER. Home for 1,809 wonderful people of every imaginable race, religion, age and economic group. In 1900, the population was 431. Our population peak was in 1990 when the census reported 2,116 people inside the city limits. I moved here in 1981 for two reasons, to be closer to work and to live in a small, welcoming, community. Unfortunately, in some respects we are a town in decline, in population, in business and job opportunities. I understand in some respects. We are a county and town with no railroad, no interstate or other four lane highway, no motels and no major employers except for corrections and trucking which are great jobs, but not for everyone. A walk down Main Street reveals entirely too many empty store fronts. We are fortunate to have several successful family owned, well established businesses in the city limits employing quite a few locals like Spires IGA, Jackson Building Supply, Shatto Heating and Air, NAPA and others. While I do not advocate having Lake Butler grow into something larger like Starke, Lake City or worse still, Gainesville, I would like to see a successful food establishment at the Loop, the empty store fronts on Main Street filled and it would not hurt to have some industry east of Lake Butler on SR-100, already zoned for such.
I think part of establishing that goal is Lake Butler needs to be visually appealing. One avenue is sprucing up Main Street. Business property owners may not know this, but there are grant funds available through the city that can be used to freshen up your property, maybe something like painting, adding awnings in front to make the sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. Call Dave or Sara at (386)496-3401 for details.
Additionally, an attractive town is well maintained, without the appearance of properties being abandoned or neglected. As I drive around town, I see properties that could use a little yard maintenance. I understand someone not being physically able or not having the equipment to mow grass. I currently cut four yards other than my own because of such circumstances. I would like to believe that there are others that could help a neighbor out in need. We also have corporate properties that don’t seem to care about their appearance like CVS, TD Bank, Family Dollar, who maintain the immediate grounds but the unused portions of property are allowed to return to the wild. There are a few resident and non-resident property owners who seem to have the money to buy property up but can’t afford to maintain it, allowing grass and weeds to grow head high and unused structures including houses and mobile homes to fall in on themselves. These are eyesores that reflect negatively on the entire community. I find that unfortunate. I would think that not maintaining a property would devalue it. It certainly does not have favorable impact on neighbors who keep theirs up. I would challenge those few owners to consider their thoughts if they had to live next door to their own derelict property. Failure to maintain grounds results in creating habitat for all sort of vermin, snakes, mosquitoes and hiding places for criminal activity.
For the past week and until the last day of October, the City of Lake Butler will haul off any and all storm debris, yard debris including bagged leaves, bush and tree trimmings as well as anything else that the property owner can get to the property right-of-way up to and including junk cars at no cost. That is five full weeks to get motivated and get it to the ditch. The next five weeks is a perfect opportunity to make a good place to live and invest even better.