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Sidewalk, road improvements urged

(ran NTP edition)

For some it was a first opportunity to tell county officials what was needed in their communities.

For others it was a chance to learn about projects under way.

The 100 or so people who attended a county-sponsored community input meeting at Cannella Elementary School on Thursday night shared their concerns and listened to the capital improvements wish lists of residents in neighboring communities. It was the fifth such meeting held in Hillsborough County last month.

Members of several Carrollwood-area groups, including the new Carrollwood Association of Neighborhoods, said they wanted some of the money to help fund a 12,000-square-foot community center in Northdale.

The building, with a gymnasium, stage and kitchen, would provide a meeting place for their groups, said members of the Carrollwood area Kiwanis Club, the Carrollwood Players theater group and the Northdale Civic Association. It could also be used to set up programs for the Boys and Girls Clubs and for neighborhood fund-raising functions, said George Aboud, Northdale Civic Association president.

Town 'N Country residents asked for median revisions in front of Wal-Mart on Waters Avenue and at the intersection of Waters and Hanley. They also wanted increased parking, a 4,000-square-foot expansion and a new roof, all for the West Gate Regional Library.

"When we go to the library now, we all say "wear your galoshes and you can get a book,' " said Rick Eldridge, president of the Twelve Oaks Civic Association.

Ron Hoelzer, president of the Town 'N Country Civic Association, asked county officials to consider putting a new roof on the Webb Road bridge and for a new youth center in Town 'N Country.

"That doesn't seem like a lot for a county that can get the Olympics in here," he said. "We've got a lot of problems out there and we're glad for a chance to be heard."

Some at the meeting were concerned that the Carrollwood area was not receiving its share of money, much of which will be generated by the community investment tax. Tom Jones, manager of the Plantation at Carrollwood, figures that the county will spend about $350-million over the next six years on capital improvement projects but that the Carrollwood area is scheduled to get only about $18-million, 85 percent of which is already slated for construction of the Linebaugh Avenue extension.

Area homeowners groups and clubs recently formed the Carrollwood Association of Neighborhoods to present their needs as a united group. Dan Ruskiewicz, Carrollwood Village property manager, urged others at the meeting to join the new association and lobby for more funding for local needs.

"We didn't feel (the money slated for Carrollwood) was our fair share," Ruskiewicz said.

Sidewalks are also a big concern. In Carrollwood, residents asked for sidewalks along Gunn Highway and for the linking of Plantation with the new Linebaugh Avenue extension. Lutz residents want a sidewalk on the west side of N Dale Mabry from Lake park to Van Dyke Road. In Northdale, residents asked for sidewalks along the west side of N Dale Mabry Highway from Mapledale Drive to Lake Park.

"Sidewalks are essential for safety," said Chris Cook, a member of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Action Council. "Sidewalks would also link a network of facilities and neighborhoods along Dale Mabry."

Others spoke of improvements to the North Tampa Library and expanding the Lutz Library from 6,600 square feet to 12,000 square feet.

The information gathered at the meeting will be considered by county officials, and many of the projects could eventually end up on the already long list of "funded" items.

"We want to be able to draw from this list when the county updates its multiyear capital program in 1998," said Eric Johnson, Hillsborough County management and budget director.

"Right now, we're still seeking input on all the community's needs for capital improvements."

If you have a story about Carrollwood, call 226-3471.