SPRING HILL — Although it may be difficult to imagine today, 25 years from now Spring Hill's original town center — Kass Circle — could be full of thriving businesses, green spaces, bike paths and a community center.
At least that's the picture University of South Florida professor Trent Green painted Wednesday evening for about 40 residents and business owners who gathered to hear the latest on the Kass Circle Revitalization Program.
The program started in February with a community session at a vacant storefront at Spring Hill Plaza, the town's first shopping center. Stakeholders shared their ideas about what Kass Circle needs through maps, Post-it Notes and conversations.
This week's session at the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library featured a compilation of those details — work done, through a state grant, by Green and his Florida Center for Community Design and Research.
The conceptual plan shows a portion of the shopping plaza being demolished. Added is a community center and parking garage, green space and new commercial buildings pushed up against Spring Hill Drive and elsewhere in the surrounding area. Some of the proposed buildings could be multiple stories, with businesses downstairs and residences upstairs.
Turning the drawings into county-sponsored improvements and public-private partnerships will take some work and time, Green said.
"We're creating a vision for the Kass Circle area's future,'' he said. "It's not a construction plan, not a master plan that is going to happen anytime soon.''
But, he said, portions of the plan could begin to take shape in the not-too-distant future.
Green is slated to present the plan to the Hernando County Commission next month, along with more details about some of the projects that could kick off the redevelopment effort. Those could include sidewalks, streetlights, pedestrian crossings and traffic-calming measures to slow vehicles on Spring Hill Drive.
"Think of this portion of Spring Hill Drive as a boulevard,'' where there will be room for pedestrians, bicycles, mass transit and commuters, he said.
From there, people could migrate to the park to relax or enjoy an event. "That is what people are going to recognize,'' Green said.
"You would use both existing and new buildings to frame this space,'' he said. "There is such a need to just come out into the public. This is your community. You should be able to participate in the larger life of a complete community.''
Some participants talked about ways they had already tried to beautify the surrounding area, while others suggested that more could be done. Hernando County Sheriff's Office Lt. P.R. Ciucci told those in attendance that Sheriff Al Nienhuis supports making Kass Circle safer, to the extent that resources allow.
Green said all of the stakeholders must come together to support the vision.
"The community buy-in, that has to happen,'' he said, "or you won't see the county and you won't see the private sector step up.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.