NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco officials have found a good site on High Street for building more affordable housing. Only one hitch: New Port Richey is still using the property for one of its two fire stations.
Interim City Manager Susan Dillinger told the City Council last week that county officials had inquired about buying the property at 6121 High St., which is valued at $55,000 by the property appraiser's office.
George Romagnoli, Pasco's community development manager, would like to purchase the land as part of push to spend $5.3 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants on affordable housing, with a focus on west Pasco. Officials are specifically targeting a swath south of Massachusetts Avenue, west of Rowan Road, north of Moog Road and east of U.S. 19.
The county is partnering with the nonprofit affordable housing developer Tampa Bay Community Development Corp., which recently built new homes on School Road across from Gulf High School.
In place of the fire station, Romagnoli hopes to build four to six homes valued at $150,000. The county would only pay the city for the value of the land, which is about $41,000, and tear the fire station down.
New Port Richey fire Chief Alex Onishenko voiced his displeasure over the idea, saying the Fire Department is still using the High Street station.
"To close it down would be a bad idea for the community," he said.
The council was open to the county's offer, however, asking Onishenko to come up with a presentation explaining why it's still needed. City Council member Bill Phillips said he would like to see the city consolidate its fire services into one building, whether at its main station on Madison Street or elsewhere.
"It's nice to know someone wants to buy this property," Phillips said of the High Street site.