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Pasco officials aim for smaller grant for Lacoochee

Published Mar. 14, 2012

A county housing official said Tuesday that Pasco has scaled back an ambitious federal grant application to help revitalize the impoverished Lacoochee and Trilby communities.

George Romagnoli, Pasco's community development director, said his staff realized the county would have little chance of landing a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Choice Neighborhoods program.

Because Lacoochee lacks several key requirements — namely early education programs and access to health or dental care — the county likely would have scored very low on the application. A key concern was sustaining those programs when grant funds ran out.

"We determined this is not something that Pasco County should apply for," Romagnoli said during a workshop with county commissioners Tuesday.

Instead, the county will aim for a $300,000 planning grant through the same program. Pasco has a better chance of winning that award, and Romagnoli said the grant would bolster the county's case when it tries again in a few years for the bigger Choice Neighborhoods grant.

The money would help develop an in-depth look at the community, including an analysis of housing conditions and opportunities to partner with social service agencies. The two-year process would build on a 2009 study that focused on infrastructure and community identity.

"The strategic plan is particularly for social services, public housing and economic development," he said.

Romagnoli also detailed plans for $3.5 million in infrastructure money, leftover bond proceeds from the Tommytown redevelopment project, for Lacoochee and Trilby.

Most of the money — about $1.8 million — would cover 20 road paving and resurfacing projects in Lacoochee. Projects would be focused on the area north of the old Cummer sawmill site and in the Mosstown neighborhood. Some new roads would be built from scratch, though such projects would likely be delayed while the county applies for permits.

The county is budgeting $500,000 for economic development incentives in the area and would spend $320,000 for water lines near new Habitat for Humanity homes. About $900,000 is set aside for road projects in Trilby, street lighting costs and reserves.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.