The Four Corners Area Council will host a summit on Aug. 3 to tackle some of the hot issues, challenges and opportunities spanning all four jurisdictions.
"Our vision is to have an integrated, uniform Four Corners area," Council Chairman Steve Silcock said. "The main goal is to get the counties working together."
The convergence of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties is tucked between two of Central Florida's largest economic drivers -- Orlando's theme parks and Polk County's fast-growing distribution warehouses. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Four Corners includes four major tourism corridors: Interstate 4, U.S. 192, U.S. 27 and S.R. 429.
The W192 Corridor presents a unique opportunity because of the investment Osceola County has made with its W192 Development Authority. But cross over into Polk County, and the enhanced landscaping and streetscape stop, Silcock said.
As the Development Authority prepares to move forward with plans to develop design standards for the corridor, now is the perfect time to engage elected leaders, business owners and planners from all four counties, Silcock said.
W192 Development Authority Director David Buchheit said the agency wants to continue its beautification project beyond all the way to U.S. 27, but it can't because the north half of the road is in Orange County. Property owners in Osceola County pay a special assessment that helps finance those improvements, along with their property taxes that must be spent within the redevelopment district.
"The main thing we'd like to accomplish is a collaborative relationship between all four counties," Buchheit said. "I can't imagine a scenario where business owners wouldn't want sidewalks and landscaping. You could really provide a sense of place."
In addition to planning, the neighboring jurisdictions can look for ways to work together on economic development, transportation planning and code enforcement.
"We have more residential coming in, but we need to get these people to work," Silcock said. "The transport situation we have in Four Corners, it doesn't support tourism or the workforce."
Formosa Gardens owner/developer George Chen said better transportation is needed to and from the airport. "Taking a bus up and down 192 is not that efficient," he said. "Tourists don't need transportation to the theme parks. The hotels have shuttles. But getting to and from the airport is really critical to this area."
Mary Ellen Kerber, development director for Formosa Gardens, said meeting elected officials from Orange, Lake and Polk counties last year during an area bus tour made her realize the need for better communications and planning across county lines.
That includes coordinating their marketing efforts and, potentially, development standards.
"The synergy is palpable," Chen said. "It's impossible not to notice that."