03/11/14 Local Government
DADE CITY — County commissioners have long offered incentives to convince companies to move to Pasco or expand here, but on Tuesday they took the unusual step of approving an incentive package to try to stop a company from leaving.
The plan, approved 3-0, will allow county staff to offer $332,000 to the tech company VLOC to try to persuade it to stay in Pasco after the company announced last month that it might relocate as part of a consolidation. (Commissioner Kathryn Starkey arrived after the vote. Chairman Jack Mariano was absent.)...
03/10/14 Local Government
LAND O'LAKES — Angry residents made their voices heard at a town hall meeting Monday about a proposed toll road in south Pasco.
The meeting didn't start that way, though.
Like previous meetings about the road, the first hour consisted of a slide presentation, a series of discussions touching on historical and anticipated growth patterns, and trends in housing, employment and transportation. Then something happened not seen at two previous meetings....
PORT RICHEY — In last fall's whirlwind campaign leading to the special election for west Pasco's state House 36 seat, a mistake appeared on campaign ads for Democratic candidate Amanda Murphy.
The word "for" was left off door hangers, yard signs and other ads, so that they read "Amanda Murphy State Representative House District 36."
The omission triggered complaints by a Republican committeeman and a Democratic voter to elections watchdog the Florida Elections Commission....
LAND O’LAKES — Toll road supporters and detractors once again will get a chance to argue their positions at a meeting Monday, and for the first time officials from the state’s Department of Transportation will attend to hear public concerns about the proposed road.
Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said she’s holding the town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at Sunlake High School, 3023 Sunlake Blvd., in Land O’Lakes to talk about the toll road proposal as well as other transportation issues. She expects 300 to 400 people there....
With no other candidates to emerge so far in the race, Pasco County Commissioner Henry Wilson seems to be cruising to re-election.
Former Commissioner Michael Cox ended months of speculation this week when he said he would not challenge the Republican — leaving Wilson the lone candidate in the District 4 commission race. The filing deadline to enter the race is in June.
Wilson and Cox have a tangled political history: Wilson defeated Cox, then an incumbent, four years ago. Cox has since hinted at a rematch, most recently last summer, but the Democrat put all speculation to rest Wednesday when he said there was “too much going on in my personal life” to allow him to run....
03/04/14 Local Government
WESLEY CHAPEL — Each December, thousands of young lacrosse players and their parents descend on east Pasco for the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions.
This year, they'll see something new: two artificial turf fields. The fields, to be built this spring, are meant to ease overcrowding at the three-day event.
Event organizers say the effort doesn't go far enough.
They don't have a problem with synthetic grass. They say they need more playing fields — and unless they get them, they might move the tournament in 2016 after its contract with Pasco ends....
02/25/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Against the advice of one commissioner, the County Commission on Tuesday decided to spend $1.9 million to build two artificial lacrosse fields instead of five sod fields at the Wesley Chapel District Park.
Funding for the work will come from tourism development taxes, or bed taxes paid by hotels.
The work is meant to support athletic tournaments at the park, 7727 Boyette Road, including the biggest of those, the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions held each December....
02/25/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners on Tuesday voted to hire outside help in their quest for a wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend Ridge Road.
Commissioners voted unanimously to hire Washington, D.C.-based Dawson & Associates to review the permit application, whether it contains any deficiencies and to assess its chances for approval.
From there, commissioners will decide whether to pursue further efforts to secure the permit to extend the road. The county has sought the corps' blessing for more than 15 years....
02/25/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $1.75 million in county funds, to be matched with millions more in state and private dollars, to replace the Dade Oaks Apartments public housing.
The allocation — technically, a formal funding agreement between Pasco County and the state housing authority, which oversees Dade Oaks — was approved unanimously by commissioners, signaling a major step in a year-old plan to replace the dilapidated housing complex....
02/21/14 Local Government
A proposed multi-million dollar makeover at State Road 52 and Interstate 75 has finally been given the green light after Pasco County and a developer have agreed to settle a four-year legal battle.
Pasco commissioners approved the $4.7 million settlement with developer Hillcrest Property in late December, ending the skirmish in which Hillcrest accused Pasco of making a land grab.
The Department of Transportation removed the final hurdle to the work on Jan. 31, when it closed on a land deal with Hillcrest....
02/20/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials, frustrated at their 15-year fight to get an environmental permit to extend Ridge Road, are considering turning to a Washington heavyweight for help.
County officials said they're thinking of hiring Van Scoyoc Associates Inc. to help get a wetlands permit approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It's not the first time they've turned to lobbyists for help. Pasco spent tens of thousands of dollars over more than a decade in attempts to get the road project approved....
02/19/14 Human Interest
DADE CITY — A Tampa-based developer and avid hockey fan is proposing a $20 million hockey and multipurpose sports facility at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 in south Pasco County.
Gordie Zimmermann of Zmitch LLC told the county's Tourist Development Council on Wednesday that the facility could boost hotels and restaurants by drawing coaches, players and spectators from across the region and outside Florida for tournaments and intra-league play....
02/18/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County is set to launch $2.2 million in safety improvements next week on Moon Lake Road, the site of a deadly crash that claimed two teens last summer.
The work includes repaving 3.5 miles of the highway from north of Ridge Road to Nassau Drive and adding a foot of paved shoulder on each side. Also, crews will add solar-powered flashers and vibration devices in the center lane and on the shoulders. The project will run from Feb. 27 to June 30. Most of the work will happen at night....
02/14/14 Local Government
WESLEY CHAPEL — The developer of a Wiregrass area sports complex says he is talking with owners from two Major League Baseball teams about holding spring training games at the proposed site.
James Talton, owner of Blue Marble Strategic, said that in late January he contacted four baseball teams about relocating to the proposed Wiregrass site and has since held "active talks" with the owners of two of those teams....
02/13/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — With neighborhood opposition growing, Pasco County commissioners are sounding lukewarm about a proposed elevated toll road in south Pasco.
At a meeting of the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization on Thursday, three of Pasco's five county commissioners gave tepid assessments of the proposed 33-mile road to run alongside State Road 54/56.
"I think it's disingenuous to keep the ball rolling down the road if there isn't the support for (this project)," Commission Chairman Jack Mariano told planner James Edwards during a project briefing. "I haven't gotten a single positive call. I haven't gotten any positive feedback from the public about this."...