Trying to pull it all together
A few weeks ago, at the first of two very contentious Port Richey City Council meetings, County Commissioner Jack Mariano offered to host a workshop, using county resources, to help explain, instruct, and plan for the future of the Port Richey Waterfront Overlay District. Many see this area of Port Richey as the linchpin of The Harbors Redevelopment Plan. That plan is a long term strategy to redevelop and revitalize West Pasco County, from Little Road west to the Gulf, and from Aripeka to Holiday.
Port Richey represents the best public access opportunities for our waterfront…While New Port Richey is West Pasco’s downtown, Port Richey is West Pasco’s waterfront.
I really REALLY tried. Honest.
I tried not to be critical of Mayor Dale Massad. I wanted to think I had caught him in an inadvertent set of misunderstandings, in our recent discussions of his conflict with business owners in the WOD. However, he did not convince me, tonight, that he has a firm grasp on his place or responsibility in all this. He adamantly stands by his contention that there can be no boat ramp in Waterfront Park. He adamantly stands by his contention that Port Richey is going to get the $600k plus dollars in Restore Act money, regardless of how the city decides to spend it.
I asked specific questions at tonight’s workshop about these two issues…And the answers seem to indicate that the mayor is wrong on both: That there can be a boat ramp, but the city has to ask to modify the plan, and that the city is in danger of losing the Restore Act funds, if they don’t act in good faith to follow the plan that was introduced BY the city, and approved by the County Commission.
Now…Late last night, the Mayor sent me several emails that he says will show me that what he says is true…And I intend to digest those, and report what I find. But several of the key decision makers in that process were at the workshop, and they did not support the Mayor’s argument.
As stated by Pasco County Restore Act coordinator Curtiss Franklin:
“If they (the city of Port Richey) were to NOT move forward on that, or not try to do that, then the fact that basically the project that they PROPOSED would not be actually the project that they intend to do, then there could be negative consequences for that. So…We’re counting on the city, and I’ve got the city’s commitment from…from the people that are there, that they’re going to work in best faith to get that done.”
After the meeting, however…The Mayor told me he does NOT intend to work toward implementing the original Restore Act plan.
Crazy. But that’s what I’ve come to expect.
Final word: It was great to see so many people out, interested, and participating in this workshop. At every turn, city and county staffers have been excellent about helping me understand all that is going on. Elected officials have repeatedly taken time to chat with me…Even the ones that know I may report what they are saying. That’s a good feeling. Though we may disagree on many aspects of local government, I get the feeling that a large majority of our local community servants are honest, diligent people who care about our future.
No West Side Deli, today…
I will not be at the West Side Deli, today…Bob, Deb, Willie and the staff are just going to have to suffer along without me. I’ll be lunching at some East Pasco spot, today, as we are attending the County Commission meeting to hear the first reading of the intent to extend the moratorium on medical cannabis dispensaries. This is important, because the ballot measure is polling overwhelmingly positive, right now…And a refusal by the county commission to prepare for that could represent a pretty wide gap between what commissioners want, and the will of the people of Pasco County.
Here’s hoping that hearing the stories of a few medical cannabis patients, and a call for the BCC members to actually visit a dispensary to see what happens there, will allay fears, and change minds.
P.S.: Corey, I did not all cap a single word in this post.