Reflect on changes, goals for the future
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - The past decade has brought on a whirlwind of changes for the cities within Brevard County. Populations have fluctuated; city staffs have downsized; with the end of the space shuttle program, workers have packed up their belongings and relocated.
Yet through the best of times, and through the tough periods, too, the mayors of these cities stand behind the municipalities they call home.
Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman, who has resided in Indialantic for 18 years, said the town has worked diligently to maintain its family-friendly, oceanfront appeal throughout the past decade.
"Indialantic, much like nearly every other town across America, has been challenged in these economic times, and we continue to make some hard decisions that aren't popular, but have to be made," he said. "The goal of most of our residents is to maintain our unique, small-town ambiance."
West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose, a resident of 23 years, said the population of his city has increased by 75 percent. West Melbourne has low taxes and is home to the top elementary school in the state, West Melbourne Elementary School for Science, both of which could add to the city's appeal.
"The West Melbourne community is a great place to live, work, play and raise your family," Mayor Rose said.
Cocoa Mayor Michael Blake, who is a lifelong resident, said his city has battled through a period of stagnant growth since 2002.
"We expanded through annexation and increased incentives, we proactively recruited businesses, we reduced violent crime, we incorporated more community programs, and we initiated a branding campaign," Mayor Blake said.
Titusville Mayor Jim Tulley, a 27-year resident of the city, said that with end of the space shuttle program Titusville became more diversified and self-sufficient.
"Our biggest obstacle is the loss of high-paying space center jobs," Mayor Tulley said. "We are diversifying our economy by attracting new employers and emphasizing entrepreneurism."
For Rockledge Mayor Tom Price, who has resided in Rockledge for 47 years, a goal for the next decade is to make the city be one with very little, if any, debt, as well as a city that cares about its heritage and a place where people want to live and work.
"We need the help of every citizen - ideas or contacts of business leaders," Mayor Price said. "The more businesses we can bring in, the more jobs we will fill."