Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County okays funds for sports complex off Trinity Boulevard

DADE CITY — County Commissioner Jack Mariano wanted to reignite the debate Tuesday over the proposed sports complex off Trinity Boulevard. But his colleagues weren't game.

In a 4 to 1 vote, commissioners approved a financing plan for the proposed $12 million complex: $3.4 million in tourist taxes, $3.8 million in parks impact fees and $4.7 million from the proceeds of a bond issue.

At the outset, Mariano raised his key criticisms of the five softball fields project: That it shouldn't be funded with tourism money because it won't generate hotel stays and that it shouldn't be funded with impact fees because it has limited times for local youth play.

And he wants commissioners to consider moving the location to the larger Starkey Ranch site, which would cost more to prep for development.

But commissioners, who reached the agenda item after a nearly 8-hour meeting, weren't biting.

"This project has been vetted, dissected, discussed. We've had public hearings, talked about it at great length … I think this is a very fair and equitable way to spend the public dollars," said Commissioner Ted Schrader, noting that there is plenty of money left over for other projects in the county.

"Mr. Mariano is trying to revisit an issue that has already been decided," said Commissioner Michael Cox. "He was on the losing end of that issue.'

Sportsplex USA, the California-based consultant that is negotiating with county officials to operate the facility, has recommended that evening weekday play be aimed at local adult softball leagues, freeing up fields at other parks for youth sports. Weekends would be devoted to tournaments designed to attract visitors.

After the sports complex is built, the staff recommendation says, Pasco could use $2 million in park impact fees to replace softball fields at nearby Mitchell Park on Little Road with additional soccer fields. Another $400,000 would go toward expanding the Mitchell Park concession stands.

Mariano objected to the idea of taking away the softball fields at Mitchell. "You're not taking care of the children of this county," he said.

Cox said that the softball fields at Mitchell are used for adults right now. So replacing them with soccer fields would be giving children more play time, he said.

Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who had once advocated for the Starkey Ranch site, told Mariano she'd asked county engineer Jim Widman what it would cost to build the necessary road if the project were to locate there. He told her more than $4 million.

"I can't accept (spending) that kind of money," she said.

Mariano told the Pasco Times last week that he was also dismayed at the flooding at the Trinity site after the heavy rains. Commissioners dismissed that comment as well.

Cox said after he read those comments, he visited the Starkey Ranch site that Mariano was advocating instead. "So help me God," Cox said, "there were two cows up to their chests in water."

Pasco County okays funds for sports complex off Trinity Boulevard 03/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results


    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. Pinellas superintendent, School Board pen letter to legislative delegation for help against 'unjust' funds for charter schools


    Because of a recent change in state law, the Pinellas County school district will have to shell out $25 million over five years  -- more funding per student than any other large district in the state -- for charter school construction and maintenance projects, and district officials …

    Pinellas County School Board Superintendent Michael Grego during a School Board meeting on August 25, 2015 at the School Administration Building, 301 Fourth Street SW in Largo.
  3. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos


    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  4. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa


    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.
  5. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance


    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.