Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SunWest issue won't die, to ire of some Pasco commissioners

BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Times (07/13/2011 Aripeka) Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano is a champion of a planned county park and adjoining mega-development at the old Sunwest limestone mine site. "You've got this amazing asset sitting out here, doing nothing," Mariano said. BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Times

PT_340996_FITT_sunwest_1

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times (07/13/2011 Aripeka) Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano is a champion of a planned county park and adjoining mega-development at the old Sunwest limestone mine site. "You've got this amazing asset sitting out here, doing nothing," Mariano said. BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

NEW PORT RICHEY — One commissioner walked out. Another accused the chairman of "doing an injustice to the board." And by the time Pasco County commissioners had wrapped up for lunch Tuesday, numerous issues divided them.

One thing was clear: After two hours of public testimony — most of it surrounding the SunWest park project in Aripeka — nerves were starting to fray.

At issue was Chairman Jack Mariano's proposal to allocate more money to the proposed park. Commissioners have allocated $3.9 million to build a beach, volleyball courts, parking and a boardwalk. Most considered SunWest a closed issue.

Yet for Mariano, who has continually pushed for more funding, SunWest has remained alive.

On Tuesday, as the meeting got under way, he found dozens of allies in the audience. They wore white T-shirts that said "I (heart) SunWest." Many later said the chairman urged them to attend.

They appealed for more money, making many of the same arguments that Mariano has.

"This is a beautiful area, an ideal area to put a park," said Victor Branson of Hudson. "It's a shame it sits there and the funds aren't going to be allocated that should be allocated."

"The No. 1 thing that attracts people to Florida is beaches," said another speaker, Taylor Ney, a senior at Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey.

"Kids need a place to go to," said Joann Bliss, 76, of Hudson.

"You're going to need more parking when more people find out about this," said Janet O'Hara, also of Hudson.

Mariano's frequent pitch is that the county has "only one shot to get it right" and needs to invest now in additional amenities. Among those: extra parking, a second bathroom, high-grade volleyball beach sand and a splash pad for young children.

Other commissioners contend the additional amenities can be added when the funds become available. After two hours of public testimony, it became clear they had had enough.

"When we voted on this park we said it would be built in phases," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said. "We need to separate wants from needs."

Turning to Mariano, she added: "I think you're doing an injustice to the board. It's not like we don't want this, but there is only X amount of dollars."

Commissioner Ted Schrader said the park was never intended to be more than a boat launch and a beach on a freshwater lake, but over the past year has evolved to include a boardwalk, a wakeboarding facility and a volleyball facility. The board supported those changes, Schrader pointed out, but can't afford the additions sought by Mariano.

Then, referring to the chairman, he added, "He's spreading propaganda. He's misrepresenting the board. This board has supported SunWest."

He then made a motion to withdraw an item about the park from the agenda, sparking an argument from Mariano who wanted to discuss it. Shortly later, Schrader walked out.

"Go ahead and walk out," Mariano said as he passed by.

The meeting broke for lunch minutes later, leaving Mariano standing among his supporters. Asked whether he would back down rather than bring up SunWest again, Mariano said: "It's not up to me. It's up to them."

Contact Rich Shopes at rshopes@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236. Follow @richshopes.

SunWest issue won't die, to ire of some Pasco commissioners 07/22/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 11:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: 8 found dead in truck, 20 dire in immigrant smuggling case

    Nation

    SAN ANTONIO — Authorities called to a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio overnight found eight people dead and 20 others in dire condition in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer, in what police are calling a horrific case of immigrant smuggling.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene Sunday, July 23, 2017, where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  2. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  3. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table

    Travel

    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers

    Nap

    Walk 6.2 kilometers

    Nap

    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  4. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  5. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.