NEW TAMPA — The road to nowhere has apparently turned into the road to dump your old mattress, light a couch on fire and street race.
Kinnan Street, the two-lane road that dead-ends at the Hillsborough and Pasco county line, has become such an eyesore and an attraction for loiterers, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has beefed up enforcement.
And at least one resident is calling for a fence to block access altogether.
In the past month, authorities have staked out Kinnan Street four times and have cited at least 10 people on mostly misdemeanor charges, according to Capt. Alan Hill. Half of them were for speeding, Hill said.
"Why are people on a dead-end street?" Hill said. "That's what we want to know."
Despite reports of street racing, officers have not witnessed any, Hill said.
But Cross Creek resident Tim Coppola, who lives just a few feet away from Kinnan, points to skid marks in the street that indicate street racing and cars doing doughnuts. In addition, it has become a dumping ground for junk.
Coppola bikes down Kinnan Street on occasion. A few months ago, he saw a discarded pullout couch and chair. The mattress soon followed. Then, just after the Fourth of July, the sofa bed and swivel chair had apparently been set ablaze, leaving little more than a shell.
"To me, it's just an invitation for something bad," said Coppola, a college vice president of finance. "If you come back here in a car, you're here for no good reason."
Kinnan Street was supposed to have alleviated traffic from Bruce B. Downs and offered residents another route between the two counties. Motorists would have had the option of cutting through Cross Creek, in the back of Live Oak Preserve and into Pasco. However, Pasco County has refused to complete the connection because officials and residents there do not want the traffic.
Despite Kinnan Street's abrupt end to the north, Live Oak residents still wanted to use Kinnan to head south toward Cross Creek for a quicker route to the library and the baseball fields.
So a $12,000 private gate was erected at a back entrance to the community, allowing residents to go in and out, but keeping nonresidents off the property. However, vandals have repeatedly damaged the gate. Some ram it with their cars; others have tied chains to it in an effort to destroy it.
Today concrete barriers block entry at the Live Oak gate from Kinnan.
John Newton, director of transportation maintenance for the Hillsborough County Public Works Department, acknowledges there is a problem. He said officials are considering moving the gate farther south on Kinnan, near the Basset Creek Drive and Kinnan Street intersection.
He also said that crews will be sent out to clean up Kinnan Street within the next couple of weeks.
"This is not the only place where illegal dumping is happening," he said. "We just have to stay on top of it."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or email@example.com.