Port Richey Problems
I got wind of an issue involving the City of Port Richey on Friday. Several people posted that businesses in what is called the Waterfront Overlay District (WOD) were not happy with new parking fines for boat trailers. The WOD is the area of Port Richey that sits on the north bank of the Pithlachascotee River. It is evertyhing from the Catches Restaurant, along the river/Miller’s Bayou to the Seaside Inn, to the Hess Station on U.S.19, and back along 19 th Catches. It is a roughly triangular area, shown in the map below (On the right edge, where it says “Single Family” is Gill Dawg. Nick’s Park, the boat ramp launch park mentioned in the podcast, is at the top, between Hooters and the Sun Cruz property.
Nick’s Park: An Old, Unsolved Problem
I started boating in this area when I was eleven. That was in 1975. By 1978, we had a 24 foot boat, and regularly used the Nick’s Park boat ramp. It is the closest public ramp to the Gulf between Hudson Beach and Anclote Park…And in 1975, NEITHER of those places had ramps. Parking was always an issue. On busy weekends, if you were not in the water by 8am, you were going to have to park OFF the park property. That meant having permission from someone to park on their property, and it was always a hassle.
If you did that math, that’s a 35-40 year old problem, that the City of Port Richey has not fixed. It is a PRIME boat launching location. People who use that ramp buy gas, ice, snacks and food in Port Richey. They cruise and come back TO the waterfront restaurants and bars in the overlay district. The music venues that I frequent, there, are a hotbed for our local music scene…Seaside Inn, Gill Dawg, Whiskey River, Rum River…ALL have live, local music.
There are plans to develop that aspect of the WOD even further, but the City is making some decisions that are making local business owners uncomfortable…And downright ANGRY, too.
Recently, problems have begun to develop. At least three business owners and stakeholders I have spoken to report that they feel the city is slipping, and in danger of losing some critical funding to address the boat ramp issue, and to dredge channels to make the area more usable and accessible. The money to do that was secured by the last city manager, Tommy O’Neill, but the city does not seem to have followed up.
Last week, the city told businesses in the WOD that if boat trailers are parked anywhere OTHER THAN Nick’s park, the owners of the property (not the boaters) would be fined $500. That is a weekend killer. Boaters had to be turned away both Saturday AND Sunday, from places they have always parked, before. That translates to lost revenue for businesses in the WOD. Gas, ice, snacks, meals, and post cruise drink buyers went elsewhere…Because of a forty year old parking problem.
What SO LOCAL Really Means…
Colleen and Erik Soujenen, along with MANY other local business people, have put their fortunes on the line, banking on a viable, attractive, prosperous waterfront, in Port Richey.
They host a variety of events, from charitable concerts to paddling and kayaking tours. They have a darned good restaurant and bar.
Later this year, Gill Dawg is going to be hosting a NATIONAL event, featuring 20 live bands, and attracting hundreds of out of state tourists.
I am not familiar enough with Ed from Whiskey River to include my impression of his feelings about all this, but Erik assures me, there is a broad feeling in Port Richey that the city is asleep at the wheel, and making decisions that are going to hurt the business in the WOD, and by extension, the tax base of Port Richey. It would be ridiculous to sit idly by, and watch all that goodwill, hardwork, and plain old revenue go away.
What Can Be Done?
For starters, there will be a meeting, tonight, at Whiskey River in Port Richey, to discuss the problems, and seek solutions for them…And also to determine how to engage the City of Port Richey in a discussion that addresses their concerns. Now…This is NOT just a business owners meeting (although the BBA IS a business group). It’s a chance for ALL stakeholders to come find out what’s up. I know a few musicians and promoters will be coming, since the area is a vital part of our local music scene, and they will be affected.
The meeting will start at 6pm, upstairs at Whiskey River. Whiskey River is located on Limestone Road, which runs parallel to the Cotee River on the south bank. Click the green link, above, or the photo below for info from the Whiskey River website.
I’ll see you there at 6pm.
Today is the LAST DAY to get tickets for our So Local Pasco Marine Science Camp for Grownups Boat Day (WITH BEER!). An intrepid TWENTY listeners and readers have signed up, but we have a few more spaces. Tickets are available by clicking the poster, below!