Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Federal agency says rejected permit for SunWest Park deserves another look

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ARIPEKA — A rejected request for dredging at Pasco County's proposed SunWest Park and an adjacent private resort might get new life after federal officials sent the case back to regulators for another look.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Atlanta reviewed the case after lower level regulators in the agency's Jacksonville office last year turned down the county's application to dredge an old channel to the Gulf of Mexico after environmentalists objected. Local officials had hoped to install a boat launch next to the park, which would sit on the coast near the Pasco-Hernando County line.

"The (Jacksonville) district must further clarify, explain, and document its rationale concerning certain aspects of the prior decision," according to a new decision released Thursday afternoon. It said that though the appeal had merit, "this decision does not have the effect of overturning the district's earlier denial decision."

It said the record requires "further review and clarification" and that Jacksonville officials could either approve or deny the permit.

Despite last year's denial of the permit, county commissioners decided to pursue the park plans. After all bids came in over the $3.4 million budget, commissioners decided to scale down the plans and negotiate with contractors.

The county is negotiating with three builders to include as many amenities as possible — including landscaping, volleyball courts, a snack bar, a beach, rest rooms and, possibly, a boardwalk.

A volleyball tournament operator, Extreme Volleyball Professionals, has talked about using the facility for training and matches.

The tourism council decided Monday to recommend additional funding from tourism taxes to pay for the park.

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