Road to Alexander Goes in Circles
The Ledger – March 4, 2012
An article the about funding for the dormant Heartland Parkway proposal, the University of South Florida Polytechnic and state Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who has pushed both projects, has raised eyebrows in Polk County and through Central Florida.
The article was written by the Tampa Bay Times. It was published Friday in the Times and Saturday in The Ledger.
Much of the material is historical, a description of the project that has changed little since its most recent public airing in 2007. The parkway would run from Interstate 4 down to the Fort Myers area, about halfway between U.S. 17 and U.S. 27.
The parkway would pass thorough vast, undeveloped tracts. Among them is a large ranch owned by a family company headed by Alexander. He is a grandson of the late Ben Hill Griffin Jr., a citrus, ranching and land tycoon from Frostproof.
The article discloses something new as well: The Florida Department of Transportation placed $34.7 million in its spending plan to design a portion of the Heartland Parkway. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, about $18 million would be spent, with the remainder spent one year or two years later.
Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. As the article points out, he has great influence over state spending.
Nonetheless, Alexander said, he did not know of the spending plan. “Don’t know anything about it,” he said Wednesday. “Not involved in any way.”
The article attempts to rebut Alexander by quoting state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “Sen. Alexander planned this perfectly,” Fasano said, without providing evidence. The statement is speculative.