Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Board wants to know which Hernando schools need sidewalks the most

BROOKSVILLE — It seemed destined for quick approval.

Last month, school district staffers asked the School Board for permission to move forward with a federal grant application worth $315,000 to build sidewalks near Chocachatti Elementary and Nature Coast Technical High School.

There were plenty of reasons to support the application for money from the federal Safe Routes to Schools program, staffers said.

Most strikingly, a cross and flowers in honor of Nature Coast student Scott Avery, struck and killed by a car while riding his bike on Powell Road. The memorial stands in a grassy swale where one of the stretches of sidewalk would be constructed.

Residents from nearby neighborhoods had petitioned for a sidewalk in the area. And the state would likely favor the application because the sidewalks would enhance a nearby project already in the works, a county planner told the board.

But board members balked. They supported the idea of a committee to identify and prioritize local sidewalk projects — a requirement now in place to land Safe Routes money — but wanted to know if other areas are in more dire need.

Now they have two more possible options, one at Spring Hill Elementary and the other at J.D. Floyd K-8.

Both have the potential to serve more students, but county and district planners say they will still recommend the application be submitted for the project near Chocachatti and Nature Coast now and try for more money through Safe Routes next year for another project.

"The extreme safety issues, in my opinion, outweigh the amount of students," said Amber Wheeler, the district's growth and planning manager, who will present the alternatives at a workshop Tuesday. "It does seem by far the most dangerous because of the (traffic) speeds."

The money would pay for a three-quarter mile stretch of sidewalk along the south side of Powell Road from Spring Park Way to the existing sidewalk in front of Chocachatti, and about 1,600 feet of sidewalk along the west side of California Street from Powell south to the Nature Coast High entrance.

About 100 Nature Coast and Chocachatti students live within 2 miles of the schools. Powell Middle School students also would benefit, Wheeler said.

She plans to bring to the workshop a copy of the petition with several hundred signatures for the sidewalk near Chocachatti and letters of support written to the county last November from Chocachatti principal Maria Rybka and Powell Middle principal Dave Dannemiller.

At Spring Hill Elementary, according to a presentation prepared for the workshop, the application could include a request for money to build sidewalks along the west side of Roble Street from Elgin Boulevard to allwood Street; along the north side of Roble from the school gate to Pillar Street; and along the east side of Colchester Avenue from Elgin Boulevard to Shafton Road.

The application could also include improvements to an existing sidewalk on Roble.

About 330 students live within two miles of Spring Hill Elementary, Wheeler said.

At Floyd, a sidewalk could stretch along the east side of Linden from Coronado Drive to Spring Hill Drive. About 495 students live within 2 miles of Floyd.

New cost estimates could test deadline

The school district and Hernando Metropolitan Planning Organization are working together on the application. County planner Steve Diez said he would have to come up with cost estimates if the board chooses to go with the Spring Hill or Floyd projects.

Right of way, a key component for the application, is available for both.

Still, Diez said, he worries about a time crunch since the application is due April 30. The process for the Nature Coast and Chocachatti sidewalk application is farther along because the county had originally planned to seek stimulus money for them, Diez said.

That's not the only reason he will urge the board to move forward with that one.

"It makes sense because we've got a continual project right there in the neighborhood already," Diez said. "And the people in the neighborhood want it."

Diez and Wheeler stressed that the county and district can submit requests through the Safe Routes program annually in the coming years.

The program is paying nearly a half-million dollars for a mile-long sidewalk and streetlights expected to be installed this fall on the west side of California from Powell Road to just north of Sandusky Street.

That's the section of road where 13-year-old Kaitlyn Harper was struck and killed while walking to a school bus stop in 2008.

Donna Bohn lives in Springwood Estates and has one son who attends Chocachatti and another who might. Bohn, who helped lead the petition drive, said she understands that the School Board has to look at all options.

"It's not that I don't want to see other schools benefit, but this is a pressing need and it's not going away," she said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at or (352) 848-1431.

Board wants to know which Hernando schools need sidewalks the most 03/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 6:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposes $974 million budget for 2018

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn today proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges in the years ahead.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his proposed $974.2 million budget for 2018 to the City Council on Thursday. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2016)
  2. A second chance at life, away from the game he loved

    The Heater

    Dylan Delso, a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays' Gulf Coast League team, displays his scar at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On June 25, 2016 Delso fell backward down a flight of stairs, suffering a nearly fatal head injury that put him in a coma for eight days. He's finally back on the baseball field after a miraculous recovery.
  3. Florida house where O.J. Simpson lived listed for $1.3 million


    MIAMI — What happened to the Florida home where O.J. Simpson lived with his children after his acquittal in the death of his ex-wife and her friend?

    O.J. Simpson explains his golf scoring to his daughter, Sydney, as he played golf on Key Biscayne in Miami in 1997. The house south of Miami where Simpson lived with Sydney and his son, Justin, until his 2008 conviction in an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas, is on the market. [AP photo]
  4. Behind the lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good


    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  5. Council candidate James Scott sees a green future for St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — James Scott's central tenet is sustainability.

    St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate James Scott. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]