ZEPHYRHILLS — The planning of a project to spruce up some of Zephyrhills' main roads is under way.
City officials and a consultant got together Tuesday for a preliminary meeting and have scheduled a couple of prearranged focus group meetings for next week to discuss the function, look and design of U.S. 301 and Sixth Street and Seventh Street downtown.
Over the next couple of months, the public will be invited to a series of forums.
"We want the engagement and involvement of the residents and property owners to help shape the future of Zephyrhills," said Marty Black of Kimley-Horn, the city's design consultant on the project.
Within a few days after each meeting, a summary will be linked to the city's website, including public comments and ideas from residents.
City officials will work with the state Department of Transportation to widen Sixth Street and Seventh Street.
They also want to make the city's architecture, landscape and signs around U.S. 301 "into a traditional Main Street" setting, said Todd Vande Berg, Zephyrhills' director of development.
City officials say they hope the area's revitalization will bring new interest and more business.
It likely will be years before any construction on the roads will begin.
But state law requires a plan be drafted first, and that's where Kimley-Horn comes in.
The city's Community Redevelopment Agency set aside $150,000 to pay the consultant for the meetings, design workshops and planning, Vande Berg said.
Funding for future improvements likely will come from grants, he said, "but we need to wrap up plans before we know how much and when to start."
"It could take several years depending on (the state DOT's) priority and funding of the project," he said.
That's why city officials are getting down to business now.
"It's important to have a downtown look of 301 and not just concrete from here to eternity," Black said.
Ebony Windom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.