Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Improved quality of life in west Pasco begins with redevelopment plan

A recent public opinion poll of Pasco residents reinforces the need for the county's continued push to try to redevelop its west side. The results of the National Citizens Survey, presented to commissioners last week, revealed nearly 60 percent of west Pasco's respondents do not believe the area is a good place to raise families.

Likewise, just 56 percent of west Pasco's respondents believe the county offers a good quality of life. In east and central Pasco, that number jumps to 80 percent.

Those residential perceptions mirror the economic outlook of each vicinity. While the Trinity area in west Pasco booms, downtown New Port Richey and the aging U.S. 19 corridor do not. The coastal retail core peaked two decades ago when space at Scenic Drive, just north of Gulfview Square mall, blossomed into bustling strip centers anchored by national department stores on both sides of U.S. 19. But the advent of even larger big-box stores equipped with full-service grocers made those 1990-vintage outlets obsolete, requiring one plaza to redevelop and another to sit with large-scale vacancies the past few years, though new tenants were just announced.

Meanwhile, central/east Pasco is home to the Shops at Wiregrass Ranch, a new hospital under construction, a planned community college campus, an expected high-end outlet mall at Interstate 75, and two financial businesses, T. Rowe Price and Raymond James, that plan moves to Pasco.

Simultaneous to the changing business outlook is the changing demographics. Much of west Pasco's housing stock appeared in the 1960s and '70s to lure northern retirees. A significant portion of those modest homes stock flipped initially to become starter homes for working class families and again as rentals to serve largely the same audience. It resulted in some neighborhood civic associations disbanding and divesting themselves of common property, leaving newer residents with fewer amenities and a sense that an area planned for an older population does not offer enough for younger people. A notable sign of the heavy retiree-presence of the past is the preponderance of services catering to seniors — west Pasco is home to four county library branches and three acute-care hospitals.

The need for revitalization hasn't escaped the county. It previously did a refurbishing of the east Brown Acres neighborhood and now is working on a much more ambitious plan to encourage commercial investment, employment centers and pedestrian-friendly developments, while simultaneously taking advantage of the natural attributes of the coastal preserves and the Pithlachascotee River.

That plan, nearly two years in the making, is expected to be finalized by the fall. Changing the face of west Pasco will be a long-term endeavor. But at least by presenting ideas on how to accomplish large-scale redevelopment, Pasco County might be able to start changing the public perception that west Pasco's quality of life is second-rate to its eastern neighbors.

Comments
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18