1. Pasco

Port Richey Council: The dredge isn't dead yet

Port Richey city government has been left challenged by the arrest this year of two mayors: Dale Massad, top left and Terrence Rowe, bottom left. [Times files]
Port Richey city government has been left challenged by the arrest this year of two mayors: Dale Massad, top left and Terrence Rowe, bottom left. [Times files]
Published May 29, 2019

PORT RICHEY — After Port Richey voters pick a replacement next month for jailed former Mayor Dale Massad, city officials plan to talk one more time about revitalizing efforts to dredge the cities canals that lead to the Gulf of Mexico. Two weeks ago, those efforts appeared doomed. Voters in Port Richey will head to the polls June 18 to vote in a special election to replace Massad. He resigned after his arrest in February on charges that he shot at Pasco County Sheriff's deputies who raided his home over concerns he was practicing medicine without a license.

Scandal continued to swirl around Massad's case after his replacement, Vice Mayor Terry Rowe, was suspended from his duties by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Rowe was arrested in March on charges of conspiring with Massad against a Port Richey police officer who helped to investigate Massad.

The Port Richey City Council met again on Tuesday — still two members short — and failed again to appoint a replacement to Rowe's seat. The skeleton council has continued to do business, and the city's two-decade-long attempt to dredge 27 canals has taken center stage.

Two weeks ago, City Manager Vince Lupo declared that the city can't afford to complete the project before Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits expire on Oct. 1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for the project expire next year.

The city has spent nearly $2 million on permitting and planning for the dredge, which many believe will help alleviate flooding in the city. After the meeting two weeks ago, several people posted on social media their ideas for finding public money for the project. The conversation caught the attention of Vice Mayor Will Dittmer.

Dittmer told the Tampa Bay Times that after reading the litany of ideas — from moving city funds around to asking Pasco County to pitch in — he came to believe that the city should host an informational workshop on the dredging. It would allow input from the public and the county, and provide clarity from the city about what is doable.

City Council members Richard Bloom and Jennie Sorrell agreed. In a 3-0 vote, they set a tentative workshop date for June 25, with hopes of having a full council by then.

"This way everything will be on the table," Ditmer said. "Nobody has to guess what's going on from where."


  1. This is a breaking news story. Check back with for updates.
  2. A "for sale" sign beckons Friday along Sixth Avenue N in the Kenwood area of St. Petersburg.
  3. Dale Massad appears in court for a motion hearing on his bond status on March 14 the at West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey. Massad is charged with attempted murder after authorities said he shot at a Pasco County Sheriff's Office SWAT team.
  4. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  5. A wrong-way driver headed south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Pasco County caused a crash that resulted in the death of a 45-year-old motorcyclist, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  Over a three-year period ending in 2018, the county averaged 97 traffic fatalities annually. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  6. New Port Richey City Hall
  7. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  8. The attendance zones for Northwest, Gulf Highlands and Fox Hollow elementary schools would shift under a proposed rezoning that also includes the closing of Hudson Elementary.
  9. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  10. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  11. The fields are set for the April municipal elections in Pasco County. Times (2012)
  12. The developers of Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel are planning a $736 million downtown core to accompany nearly 2,700 residences and 355,000 square feet of commercial and office space in a walkable neighborhood. . As part of the deal, Pasco County will consider kicking  in a $33 million 30-year incentive, mostly a tax rebate to help with infrastructure costs.