NEW TAMPA — Neighborhood leaders in Live Oak Preserve say they want to start using a road that Hillsborough County proposes to close.
"It'll save us 20 minutes of travel time at peak hour," said Michael Ceparano, homeowner president in Live Oak's Cedarwood village.
Hearing that, county officials decided Thursday to scale back a plan to close the northern mile of Kinnan Street, which runs along Live Oak's eastern boundary. John Newton, county director of transportation maintenance, said his department probably will propose closing Kinnan just north of Oak Preserve Boulevard, the main road through Live Oak.
Thus far, Live Oak residents have rarely used Kinnan. Barriers or locked gates blocked any exit through Live Oak's eastern end. Since Kinnan's northern end is blocked by Pasco County, the two barriers made the road useless to all except fitness buffs, illegal dumpers and drag racers.
Such activities persuaded Newton that northern Kinnan should be fenced off, leaving access only for pedestrians and cyclists.
But Thursday morning, presidents of Live Oak's village homeowner associations read of the proposal in the Times, and convened a conference call about it. They persuaded Live Oak's developer, Engle Homes, to activate rear-entrance gates. And they began contacting county officials to lobby for access to Kinnan.
The road is a direct link to Cross Creek Boulevard, New Tampa's only major commercial hub off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
Several of the presidents said residents have always wanted access to Kinnan, but not if that opens Live Oak to cut-through drivers. That has led to a drawn-out effort to successfully install gates at Oak Preserve's eastern end.
Engle's Rick Feather said the gates have been repeatedly vandalized, prompting the developer to keep them closed and locked.
"We've had people ram 'em," Feather said. "We've had people hook chains to them and try to pull them off."
Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.