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Officials, community enthusiastic over South Brooksville street lights

BROOKSVILLE — Government officials and south Brooksville community leaders have a bright idea on how to enhance the neighborhood.

Street lights.

Their plan is to increase the neighborhood's security and safety by installing street lights in the areas of the community outside the city limits of Brooksville. Portions of south Brooksville within the city limits already have lights.

Sheriff Richard Nugent is helping push the idea forward by working with the south Brooksville Community Initiatives Team to possibly provide $20,000. This would pay for two-thirds of the upfront cost of the lights and would use law enforcement trust funds, which is mainly drug forfeiture money.

County Commissioners agreed recently that the initiatives team should move forward with the lighting plan and later bring the formal proposal to establish a special benefits unit for the neighborhood.

That would mean the residents receiving the street lighting would pay a special fee on their property tax bill to provide the remaining $10,000 in upfront costs and to pay for the $7,300 lighting bill each year.

It is the same mechanism used by residents all over Hernando County who seek county help in installing street lights.

The usual mechanism for the county to consider such a benefits unit would be for the neighborhood to come forward and sign petitions seeking the county's help to create such a taxing entity. In this case, it is the community leaders on the initiatives team who are asking the county to help, according to assistant county attorney Erica Moore.

"I really think this is a very good project,'' said Commissioner Rose Rocco, who sits on the initiatives team.

The Community Initiatives Team was formed more than a year ago to address all the many unmet infrastructure needs long ignored by city and county leaders in mostly African-American south Brooksville.

Moore said the team was grateful for the sheriff's willingness to participate in funding the lighting project, which has strong support from south Brooksville's community leaders.

"We're very excited about this offer,'' Moore said. "We think that it would be an incredible renewal in this part of the county.''

Both Rocco and Moore cited several improvements the county has discussed or already accomplished for south Brooksville including last year's cleanup, drainage and road improvements, the anticipated environmental cleanup at the old county Department of Public Works compound, purchase of lots around that site to move residents away from contamination and the soon-to-be completed new sheriff's substation.

In addition to the community, the county and the sheriff, the city of Brooksville is among the partners in the efforts to improve south Brooksville.

"We're hoping that this is just the beginning,'' Moore said. "Everyone is galvanized with solving these longstanding issues in that community.''

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

Officials, community enthusiastic over South Brooksville street lights 07/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 8:31pm]
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