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  1. Pasco

Anclote River Park expansion should get boaters better traffic flow and more parking

Times (2012) Five-year-old Gage Callaway splashes past Lawrence Kish while visiting Anclote River Park in Holiday.
Published Jul. 10

DADE CITY — A 14-acre expansion of Anclote River Park in Holiday could mean less congestion for boaters and park users.

Pasco County commissioners at Tuesday's meeting approved a land swap between the county and Duke Energy to add more space to the busy boating and recreation area. The park has four boat ramps with six lanes, along with playgrounds and picnic areas. It is located near the mouth of the Anclote River.

The county brokered a deal that will add 14 acres to the north of the park. It previously leased 29 acres of land from Duke Energy. Now, in exchange for a 75-acre county parcel next to Duke Energy's Anclote Substation and $1.85 million, Pasco County will own the leased land and add the extra recreation space.

Full ownership of the land will allow the county to make needed changes, Pasco County parks director Keith Wiley said.

"I think this is such a win for residents of Pasco County," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said.

County officials are working to close the real estate deal, which could take two to three months. Then they will start planning the layout for the expanded park, Wiley said. Residents likely won't see changes for a year or more.

The park has 170 boat-trailer parking spots, including overflow, Wiley said. It already is busy on weekends and holidays, he said, and it could feel even more of a squeeze as Pasco County works to expand its mini scalloping season and attract more visitors. The county plans to add more parking with the expansion, but Wiley said he's not sure how many spaces.

The first priority once the land is acquired will not be to add ramps, he said, but to improve park design, because the existing layout doesn't allow for the free flow of traffic.

"What don't know yet is, if we improve the access and the flow inside, do we actually need additional ramps," Wiley said.

Officials want to construct a traffic-flow pattern that allows easier access into the park for drivers and quicker launches into the water for boaters. Part of the solution may include adding separate entrances for people using only the park and people using the boat ramps If that doesn't clear up traffic, Wiley said, they will consider more ramps.

There was no discussion of it at the commission meeting, but Starkey said she hopes the expansion could allow for the addition of a waterfront restaurant with boat slips. She also is glad to have more space within the park to host seasonal festivals, she said.

"It's a game changer for southwest Pasco," Starkey said.

Contact Sarah Verschoor at sverschoor@tampabay.com. Follow @SarahVerschoor.

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