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Leaders expect growth in 1999

(ran PC edition)

Looking ahead to 1999, city officials in east Pasco see a rolling snowball of new homes, bigger roads, more people and more city involvement as the region starts to feel Tampa's creeping impact.

With a 900-home luxury subdivision under way along the Saint Leo city limits, the city's biggest subdivision ever blossoming in San Antonio, a growing RV resort in Dade City and new golf courses and subdivisions along Zephyrhills' outskirts, the coming year promises to be busy.

In 1999, residents can expect to see Pasco County begin work on a new county administration building in downtown Dade City and continue negotiations to absorb the independent San Antonio Volunteer Fire Department. Dade City is readying for a massive sewer upgrade while Zephyrhills embarks on an overhaul of its downtown.

"It's all growth and getting ready for growth," San Antonio Mayor Pro Tem Lori Hillman said. "There's nothing we can do to stop it, but we can prepare."

San Antonio and Saint Leo can expect to feel the huge hand of growth when construction begins at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club, a 1,000-acre development with hundreds of luxury homes built around two golf courses on the east shore of Lake Jovita. Grass is already growing on many of the golf fairways, and construction of the first homes could begin by February.

Nearby, in San Antonio, developers are planning a smaller but significant subdivision with 36 homes on 17 acres. Officials from the Pinewood Manor development are expected to present their proposed plat map to city commissioners Tuesday.

Along Dade City's eastern boundary, developers of the Morningside RV Estates recreational vehicle complex plan to add the first 200 of a planned 1,200-lot expansion on 200 acres.

For Dade City City Manager Doug Drymon, that's just one reason the city needs to add to its sewage capacity.

"It's all going very positively," he said. "We're working with everyone involved and really moving ahead. I expect we're going to have something we're proud of."

The expansion project became a priority in October when state inspectors became unhappy with the way the city disposes of its treated wastewater. The old system of percolating the treated water into the ground in giant basins wasn't handling the load fast enough, the state complained.

An expansion will include using the water to irrigate farmland and other grassy areas while opening the sewer system up to more commercial and residential growth, Drymon said.

Part of handling growth also includes more services to city residents, Drymon said. The city is anticipating a state grant in the coming year to help a county seniors organization resurrect the decaying old Crescent Theater and turn it into a senior center. Meanwhile, the city is also in talks with the East Pasco YMCA in Zephyrhills to start offering classes and programs in Dade City, possibly in the city building rented by the Dade City Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber plans to move in to its new Church Avenue headquarters early this month.

In Zephyrhills, they're just as busy and booming.

Most of that city's activity in 1999 will focus on three materials: asphalt, concrete and steel.

By mid-year the city hopes to open its Dairy Road fire station to serve Zephyrhills' burgeoning north side. The $500,000 building will house firefighters and two engines.

Also on the construction agenda is completion of the Sixth Avenue Extension. The road, which will cut across Zephyrhills Municipal Airport property, will create the first direct link between downtown and Chancey Road.

But both projects are dwarfed by the more than $1-million set aside for a renovation of Fifth Avenue in downtown Zephyrhills. The project, which will probably begin next spring, is partly paid for with a $600,000 redevelopment grant from the state.

The refurbished downtown will feature new shade palms, benches, crosswalks and street lamps. A decorative fountain will adorn a traffic circle at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street.

"It should be a pretty productive year in the city," City Manager Steve Spina said.

Drymon echoed the sentiment.

"It's going to be a good year," he said. "There's a lot of potential, a lot to do."

Other items on the 1999 menu for east Pasco include:

Dade City annexations, with growth expected along the south and east sides.

A renovated boathouse for San Antonio and Saint Leo residents to use, courtesy of volunteers, San Antonio City Commissioners and a state grant.

A new vision for Dade City's downtown. The second phase in the Main Street Inc. project is expected to extend north and south of Meridian Avenue.

A network of hiking paths in Dade City's "Rails to Trails" program.

A new Pasco County Clerk of Courts storage building on Dade City's south side.

Growth at Zephyrhills' largest employer, Zephyrhills Spring Water Co., as the company looks to increase its capacity and hire at least 40 more workers.

A Zephyrhills City Commission election, with two seats up for grabs.

A special District 61 state House election, filling the vacancy left when Rep. Carl Littlefield announced he has accepted a state post.