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Gang shooting worries residents

A gang-related shooting that killed two former Leto High School students Monday night is high on the list of concerns among residents here, as well as among county officials. Both want to head off similar tragedies in the future.

"This has galvanized the community," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, who represents a district that includes Town 'N Country.

Gang-related activity, though, was just one of many issues discussed during a town hall meeting held by the county commissioners Thursday night at Alonso High School. They heard from about 20 residents on everything from streets that need sweeping to a wastewater treatment plant that needs sweetening.

"The odor at River Oaks is horrendous," said Carlton Lewis, who lives in Timberlane. "It's a blight on our community."

The wastewater treatment plant at Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road has long been a source of angst among residents because of the noxious odors it generates. It also has been subject of numerous efforts by the county to fix the problem.

The county's wastewater department is trying to eliminate the odor before untreated sewage reaches the plant, Lewis was told by a county official.

But officials said the ideal solution would be to build a large regional wastewater treatment plant and close the smaller ones where neighborhoods have grown up around them.

Other issues discussed included the high cost of road construction, school overcrowding and drainage problems.

The lack of sidewalks along Old Memorial Highway near the Children's Home brought John Long to the meeting.

He was told repairs and replacements of sidewalks already have started on Manhattan Avenue near Leto High and that Old Memorial would not be far behind.

And Cynthia Mercer, who commutes every day to Pasco County, expressed concern over the dangerous condition of Gunn Highway, from its sharp curves to its steep shoulders.

"Let's spend more time on infrastructure and less on sex, gays and homeland security," Mercer said. "That's not filling the potholes in my road."

Jackie Ripley can be reached at ripley@sptimes.com or at (813) 269-5308.

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