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Hernando Commission to go 'ultra-passive' on recreation at Peck Sink

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners got their first good look at the concept plan for the Peck Sink Preserve on Tuesday, a plan with scenic nature trails, comfortable picnic shelters and informational kiosks.

But after a detailed presentation on the project, they said it was not what they had in mind for the 111-acre property.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell said the state didn't give the county partial funding to provide picnic tables and an education center. The money, he said, is to protect the underground water supply.

"Frankly, at this point in time, to proceed with that would be vastly premature as we have more parks than we know what to do with in this county and that we can maintain,'' he said.

For several years, the county has been working with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to address storm water issues related to Peck Sink. The sinkhole drains the runoff from a 17-square-mile zone in and around Brooksville. The land around the sink has been acquired by the county through local taxes and state funds.

King Engineering was hired in May to design the storm water treatment system for the land as well as public access.

Brian Skidmore of King Engineering described a system of ponds and natural areas that would be used to hold runoff and naturally filter it before it would flow down into the sinkhole and into the underground water supply.

After the presentation, Russell said he wanted to see the focus on that system and the related hydrological improvements. The public amenities were "far superfluous,'' he said, and other commissioners agreed.

Putting in a parking lot would just add to the contamination, said Commissioner Jim Adkins.

Ron Pianta, county planning director, pointed out that the funds to purchase the land surrounding Peck Sink did require that there would be public access.

Russell suggested the site should be "ultra-passive'' recreation, which would amount to not posting "no trespassing" signs.

"That's where we want to go, to the minimal,'' agreed Commission John Druzbick.

Pianta said that is where the staff would focus.

In other business:

• In response to citizen concerns, Charles Mixson, county engineer, reported that he has had a recent talk with state transportation officials about the safety issues at the intersection of Citrus Way and U.S. 98. Several fatal accidents there have prompted citizens to push for a full-functioning traffic signal at the corner instead of the flashing light there now.

Mixson said the state Department of Transportation will still not approve a traffic light there but officials were discussing a plan to re-stripe the lanes at the intersection.

Under Mixson's proposal, the cars on Citrus Way would be re-positioned by the striping to an angle closer to 90 degrees that would improve visibility, which is a serious problem at the intersection.

"I think we can fix it without spending a whole lot of money,'' Mixson said.

• Commissioners approved a contract with Encore Construction Company for $13.64 million for improvements to the Glen Wastewater Treatment Plant off Hexam Road. The expansion of the plant will be funded through a low-interest state loan commissioners also approved on Tuesday.

The loan money is part of the federal stimulus program to help governments pay for building infrastructure. It is thought that about 200 jobs will be generated by the project.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando Commission to go 'ultra-passive' on recreation at Peck Sink 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:27pm]
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