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Road widening project draws varied opinions

Richard Strogin thinks it will make the area look too commercial.

John Kosciol likes that there will be sidewalks so people can walk to nearby stores.

Donna Lipidarov thinks it will bring more business to the bank she manages.

John Burrell worries it may draw more traffic to an already busy road.

There were many opinions from attendees at a public informational meeting Thursday at Mariner United Baptist Church about the upcoming road-widening project on Mariner Boulevard between Mayberry Road and Cortez Boulevard.

Audrey Hill, one of several dozen residents and business owners at the meeting, had mixed feelings about the plan.

She likes the addition of sidewalks and the idea of widening the busy road. Her main concern is that the county will be cutting down trees in the woods behind her home to make room for a water retention basin.

"The beauty of the woods will be gone," she said.

Over the years, she said, the woods have attracted all kinds of birds and an occasional fox.

"I'll miss that part of it," she said.

Judy Norsworthy said she's all for the project, but she worries it may trigger sinkholes.

"When it's finished, it will be beautiful," she said. "In the meantime, it'll be aggravation."

"I'm a little upset," said Richard Strogin, a resident of Mariner Boulevard. "It's going to look too commercial when they finish."

Instead of a center turn lane, he had hoped officials would put in a grassy median with trees, such as the one on Northcliffe Boulevard.

Like several residents at the meeting, John Burrell said his real estate agent never told him there was a right of way owned by the county for widening the road to five lanes.

If residents didn't know, they should have, said Chris Wert, an engineering coordinator for the county.

The right of way was set aside by the Deltona Corp., developers of Spring Hill, for a road widening, Wert said. It is on the deeds to all the properties.

Wert assured residents and business owners that Mariner Boulevard will remain open throughout construction and that access to all driveways will be maintained.

Construction is slated to begin in two weeks with the relocation of water and sewer lines. Road construction will not begin until mid-July. The project should be completed by next May, Wert said.

"It is most definitely needed," said Donna Lipidarov, manager of the Capital City Bank on Mariner Boulevard.

She said she's expecting a few customer complaints during construction but once finished, "this should improve business," she said.

Allen Minckler, the property manager of new office space on Mariner, concurred. His concern is that public sewers won't be constructed at the same time. Sewers would open up additional land for parking, he said.

Tom DiLuzio of Florida Water Services said putting in sewers is the state's decision.

When Deltona built Spring Hill, he said, the area north of Seagate Street was not intended for residential development, and no public sewers were constructed. Sewers probably will be mandated someday, he said, but "you never know when."