Last year the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin thrust Sanford to the center of international attention -- and spurred a conversation about how urban design and public space shape civic behavior.
Now, Sanford is searching for a new vision for its future. The city has established Imagine Sanford, a project aimed at creating a solid identity for the city -- and a plan for how to get there. The 13-member steering committee is made up of community leaders who meet monthly while the plan is being formulated.
Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett says although the project started in January 2012, since Trayvon Martin's death the pressure has been on to get the project moving.
Although Sanford has an enviable downtown, he says, more needs to be done to link up the distinct areas of the city, including the historic African American neighborhood of Goldsboro.
"We haven't really done a very good job of making Goldsboro part of the city, so to speak," he says.
"You've got historic Goldsboro Boulevard- we want to take that and do the beautification on through 13th [street] which ties that in to [US Highway] 17-92 and what's happening on the east side of town too."
Some of the other proposals for the city include welcome signs and a system of hiking and cycling trails through Sanford and around Lake Monroe.
Triplett says he wants to make sure the trail system connects to the SunRail commuter train station.
"Some people say we're disadvantaged because of the placement of our SunRail [but] we're kind of blessed in a way because we've got a blank slate out there."
Triplett says the vacant land around the station will allow for new development linked to the rail- including shops and apartments.
"We've got a great opportunity over the next ten years- we've just got to make sure we do it right the first time."