Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trinity wrong spot for Pasco sports complex, Jack Mariano says

TRINITY — As the rain tapered off Friday afternoon, Commissioner Jack Mariano was looking out from his car at the county property where officials are planning to build a multisports complex.

Water was building up everywhere, he said, cutting right through the park property. "Isn't that crazy?" he said.

Add flooding to the list of criticisms from Mariano, who has been waging a one-commissioner battle against the proposed complex, which would feature four or five softball fields and a restaurant on 40 acres off Trinity Boulevard.

His more general criticisms: The project is too small, it's in the wrong location and it would benefit the company that wants to run it more than the county.

The proposal returns to Pasco commissioners on Tuesday when they will consider staff's recommendation on how to fund the $12 million facility.

The staff's proposed formula: $3.4 million from tourist taxes, $3.8 million from park impact fees for the west zone and $4.7 million from a half-cent sales tax bond issue.

If the county decides to buy additional nearby land for $1 million, officials say, the funding should come from the bond money ($351,442) and the park impact fees ($648,558).

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.

Don't expect Mariano to support the proposed funding formula. He doesn't like using either park impact fee money for Sportsplex — "When … you don't make (the park) available to (local) children, I think people are going to have problems with it," he said — or tourism money.

"You've got a complex that's not going to generate any hotel stays," he said.

(Sportsplex representatives would disagree: They say they have talked to tournament directors interested in bringing events that would attract players from around the state.)

So why does he think the four other commissioners have come to different conclusions about the overall project?

Mariano said he's got a long history with sports in the county.

"They haven't sat in the workshops. They haven't talked to as many people as I have. They haven't got kids playing sports. I'm living it and seeing it," he said.

But he's got a new angle. He's pushing for the Starkey Ranch site, the runner-up site in Sportsplex USA's ranking.

Why now? Basically, he learned that part of the original half-cent sales tax bond issue covered the cost of fill in developing the Starkey property.

The cost of prepping that site for development is what pushed the Trinity property to the top of the list. It's essentially ready to go, officials have said.

Mariano doesn't think the other costs of developing the Starkey land are insurmountable and sees the site as big enough to accommodate a 10-field setup that could generate larger tournaments. He noted that a 16-field sports complex was recently approved in the Gainesville area.

(Commissioner Ann Hildebrand has also suggested the Starkey site would be a better fit than the Trinity location and a "purer" use of park impact fee dollars, but she voted with the other commissioners on the Trinity site to keep the project moving.)

Mariano has previously faced criticism that his main goal has been to try to get the project in Engle Park in Hudson, which is in his district. He was even working with a group of Hudson residents trying to get a complex built at Engle.

If he hadn't come to believe the fill costs at Starkey might make a difference? "I'd probably be at Engle again," he said. "This (Trinity) site can't do it."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Trinity wrong spot for Pasco sports complex, Jack Mariano says 03/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fatal hit and run closes section of Nebraska Avenue

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash early Sunday morning on Nebraska Avenue.

  2. Sunday Conversation: Roberto Torres talks immigration

    Human Interest

    YBOR CITY

    Roberto Torres stands as one of the city's most impressive rising entrepreneurs. The owner of Blind Tiger Cafes, Black & Denim clothing company and CoWork Ybor has expanded his reach with locations at Tampa International Airport and The Morrison, a new mixed use development in the SoHo District. Torres, …

    Roberto Torres receives his American Dream award from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Aug. 15.
  3. Tampa police officer shoots man in Ybor

    Crime

    A Tampa police officer shot a man while investigating a trespassing call at a vacant house on the eastern edge Ybor City early this morning, police officials said.

    Daniel Olinger, 68, was shot by an officer investigating a tresspassing call early Sunday morning. [Tampa Police]
  4. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]