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  1. Pasco

Is Pasco ready for some construction dust?

NEW PORT RICHEY — A $241 million windfall is heading to Pasco County's public safety, parks and library services next month, and county officials already are calculating when the building can begin.

The dollars, proceeds of four bond issues approved by voters in November, will finance an expanded jail, construction of nine fire stations, renovations to seven library branches and refurbishing work at existing parks.

Last week, county staff members briefed commissioners on the projected timelines for the work. More firm schedules and cost estimates are expected after design work is completed.

Among the highlights:

• Construction will begin after Oct. 1 to modernize the New River and Centennial library branches. The work is expected to take six months. The final branch to be improved will be at Regency Park, and work there is scheduled to be done by the end of 2021.

"We're being very aggressive with the libraries to get them updated,'' said Andrew Baxter, director of facilities management for the county.

Library branches will close during construction and the county will move the collections, computers and staff to other locations.

"It gets us in. It gets construction done as quickly as we can, and it gets us out of there,'' County Administrator Dan Biles told commissioners.

Libraries Administrator Sean McGarvey said the county plans community outreach efforts to minimize disruptions caused by the shuffling.

"We don't want to lose patrons during this," he said. "We want to actually increase them.''

• The facilities management team is overseeing $7 million of park improvements, including six new concession buildings at: Engle Park in Hudson; Mitchell Park on Little Road; Shady Hills; Pine Hill in New Port Richey; and two at Burks Park in Dade City.

The largest item on the project list is the nearly $3 million renovation at Anclote River Park that will include cement boat ramps, dock pilings, parking lot paving and two restrooms.

Some of the initial park construction work includes building the concession stand in Shady Hills and replacing the air conditioning system at Wesley Chapel District Park. That work is scheduled to be done by Oct. 1, 2020. Much of the parks work, however, is not scheduled to be done until 2022 to avoid conflicting with public safety projects that will be underway in 2021, Baxter said.

• The first of nine new or replacement fire stations to be built will be Station 42 at State Road 52 and the Suncoast Parkway. Construction is scheduled to begin after March 1, 2020, and take 15 months. All nine stations and a new training center in Land O' Lakes are projected to be done by Oct. 1, 2023.

New stations are planned for: SR 52 and U.S. 19; Bexley Ranch in Land O' Lakes; and Meadow Pointe near State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel. The rebuilt stations will be at Seven Springs Boulevard, U.S. 19 and Cross Bayou Boulevard in west Pasco, at U.S. 41 and Central Boulevard in Land O' Lakes, and in Shady Hills and Crystal Springs.

• The largest project is the 1,000-bed expansion of the county detention center, projected to cost approximately $130 million. Design and permitting is expected to take up to 18 months and construction is scheduled to begin after Oct. 1, 2020, and be finished March 1, 2023.

The project includes updates to the jail's central services, including medical and kitchen facilities that were not expanded when the county completed a previous 750-bed expansion.

Property owners will begin repaying the bonds after they receive their property tax bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Combined, the four bond issues will add .6107 mills, or less than 62 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value, to the tax bills.

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.

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