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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Park project funds better spent on infrastructure, residents say

PORT RICHEY - Some city residents complained about the priorities of Port Richey officials recently during a review about possible upgrades to Waterfront Park. The residents, who attended a meeting of council members last week, said they would prefer to see the city concentrate on dredging canals and fixing the aging and leaky pipelines in the city's utility system. If built all at once, the park improvements could cost about $2.4 million, WadeTrim consultants estimate. Construction of some 10 major features, however, probably would spread out over the next decade at the park along Old Post Road northwest of U.S. 19 and Grand Boulevard.
City council members, meeting as the Port Richey Community Redevelopment Agency, commented on the WadeTrim outline, but made no decisions. City officials are undecided whether to invest CRA funds, seek grants or use its share of Penny for Pasco sales tax revenue, among other options. The city might finalize the document at a special CRA meeting Wednesday. Two council members were absent Thursday. During the public comment period, resident Dale Massad said that nobody goes to Waterfront Park. Massad said that the city could pursue its long-stalled canal dredging project for $2.4 million. Massad said city officials in the past several years had pleaded poverty. Yet City Manager Tom O'Neill reported Thursday that the CRA fund has a balance of $2 million. Money also might be better spent on fixing the city's leaky water and sewer pipelines, Massad and other residents said. Resident Phillip Franco agreed that the park should not get high priority for CRA funds. The city should pursue grants, he said. Dredging the canals, on the other hand, would help raise the property values of homes and businesses in the city, Franco said. "My water is still brown," resident Holly Kolinsky said, expressing a preference for an overhaul of the city's utility infrastructure. Although a frequent Waterfront Park visitor during dog walks, Kolinsky said she was "a little appalled" by the WadeTrim park improvement master plan. The plan jams too many attractions into the park's open spaces, she said. Councilman Terrence Rowe said the city has spent some $1.3 million seeking dredging permits, yet nothing seems to be happening with the project. "This is a beautiful plan," Rowe said, but it would change "the entire ambiance" of Waterfront Park. City officials should talk about extending the city bicycle trail at the March 20 special CRA meeting, Rowe said. Rowe wants to check the condition of the fishing pier at the park first. Questions remain about its safety in its current condition. WadeTrim consultants said the pier would require a separate structural analysis. A cost estimate breakdown of the park plan includes:

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