Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco officials eye Starkey Ranch for sports complex

NEW PORT RICHEY — Back in January, Pasco County commissioners settled on a 26-acre site off Trinity Boulevard as the future home of a five-field softball complex aimed at attracting tournaments and tourists.

The next five months brought protests from a senior community, internal debates on the board and a near shelving of the idea.

Now the board is trying again. This time, it is poised to put the $12 million project at Starkey Ranch.

Commissioners did not take a vote Tuesday, but they reached a consensus to move forward with plans for the 40-acre site at the as-yet-undeveloped Starkey Ranch property in Odessa. The developer has to give the county that much land for parks as part of the development process, and county officials are considering buying another 40 acres where local youths can play ball.

"I went out to look and am glad I did because what I saw was the land was beautiful," said commission Chairwoman Pat Mulieri. "I think I looked at it and said, 'This could be a legacy.' "

The idea of buying an additional 40 acres is what swayed Commissioner Jack Mariano, a longtime holdout who said he's now satisfied that the entire project will benefit local youth. Going to 80 acres, he said, "opens up a whole level of acceptance for me."

A public hearing scheduled for tonight on the project is expected to draw a big crowd from the Trinity area. Commissioners will vote on the location after hearing from residents.

As proposed, the sports complex project would include five softball fields surrounding a restaurant. 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. Weekends would be devoted to tournaments designed to attract visitors.

The second 40 acres would have an undetermined mix of fields. The Dixie youth softball league based in Seven Springs has asked the county to let it use those additional fields for its tournaments.

Buying the additional 40 acres is expected to cost the county about $1 million. Getting the site ready for development could cost $1 million or nearly $2 million, depending on whether there's enough on-site fill.

Commissioners had three choices before them, but only Starkey Ranch panned out.

The Mitchell property near Community Hospital did not have an additional 40 acres available.

Adam Smith Enterprises pulled its property near Trinity Memorial Gardens from consideration. Originally, the developer had wanted the project to go on the 26 acres it gave to the county for a park as part of the development process, but it pitched the land near the cemetery as an alternative.

Tonight, commissioners are expected to talk about what to do with that original 26 acres picked for the sports complex. Commissioners dropped that site after Heritage Springs residents protested that the field lights and traffic would hurt their quality of life. But other Trinity residents, including younger families, still think that land should be used for a community park.

Lew Friedland, Adam Smith Enterprises president, told commissioners they should make sure there's enough park impact fee money left over from the Sportsplex project to do something on the 26 acres.

"We can put together a little park in there that makes everybody happy," he said.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

Fast facts

If you go

The Pasco County Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed sports complex from 6 to 8 tonight at the West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Road, New Port Richey.

Pasco officials eye Starkey Ranch for sports complex 06/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Offense gets some juggling

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The night after scoring six runs to emerge from what had been a historically fallow offensive stretch seemed like an odd time to make changes to the lineup, but that was exactly what the Rays did for Wednesday's late game against the Blue Jays.

    Associated Press
  2. Dunedin man accused of possessing child pornography


    DUNEDIN — A 57-year-old man was arrested Wednesday, accused of intentionally downloading child pornography, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Richard Beal Anger, 57, of Dunedin faces 11 counts of possession of child pornography. [Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Pence cuts short Latin America trip and pressures Chile to sever all ties to North Korea


    SANTIAGO, Chile — Vice President Mike Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Donald Trump and the national security team.

    Vice President Mike Pence urged Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to take a tougher stand against North Korea on Wednesday in Santiago, Chile.
  4. Big Ben backlash: Plan to silence beloved bell under review


    LONDON — British Parliament officials said Wednesday they will review plans to silence Big Ben during four years of repairs after senior politicians criticized the lengthy muting of the beloved bell.

  5. UF's move to deny white nationalist Richard Spencer a venue sets up a First Amendment court fight


    In denying a notorious white nationalist his request to speak on campus, the University of Florida has brought a thorny legal battle to Gainesville in the name of keeping its students safe.

    Legal experts say the University of Florida will have an uphill battle in court proving that fears of violence from an appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer will override the First Amendment. "There's a fine line between inciting lawlessness and engendering a situation where lawlessness arises," said Peter Lake, higher education law professor at Stetson University College of Law. [Getting Images]