County to vote on sidewalk to school
By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN, Times Staff Writer
Pasco County will move ahead with plans to build a sidewalk near Chasco Middle School with or without help from the School Board.
The sidewalk will be built on Ridge Road so students living south of the school in subdivisions and apartment complexes will no longer have to walk in the street or cut through private property.
Since the school opened last year, complaints have poured into county and school district offices from parents and residents of complexes where students had cut through.
The county wanted the school district to build sidewalks because the pedestrians were going to school, but the school district said it couldn't build the sidewalks because the area was not part of the school's campus, said Assistant County Administrator Bipin Parikh.
Parikh will ask the County Commission for approval to build the sidewalk during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Historic Pasco Courthouse in Dade City.
"The more we delay, the worse it gets," Parikh said.
Parikh said that if the county's proposal was approved, it would pay the $35,000 for the sidewalk and start the building and then seek reimbursement for up to half of the cost from the school district.
The sidewalk will stretch about 900 feet on Ridge Road, from the school to Lemon Road. The project also includes filling in a gap of 200-300 feet in the sidewalk on Lemon Road.
In other business Tuesday, the commission will consider creating a task force to oversee a purchasing program for environmentally sensitive land.
The move follows a presentation last month by the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program.
The group spoke of the need for a program that would acquire sensitive lands to benefit water resources, endangered species, coastal preservation and public recreation.
After the presentation, the commission voted unanimously to consider a resolution that would form an environmental land acquisition task force to research possible land buys and financing options.
In the proposal for the Tuesday meeting, the County Attorney's Office advises the commissioners against appointing people to that task force who were nominated by eLAMP. The office recommends looking at a broader pool of people in the same way that it constructed a citizens committee to help update the county's land-use plan.
But eLAMP organizer Jennifer Seney said Friday that the task force needed a greater level of expertise. The task force members will have to pinpoint endangered habitats and find ways to finance the purchase of those lands.
"Do not water down the expertise of (the task force) or it will not be able to produce the results," she said.
-- Saundra Amrhein covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at (727) 869-6244 or toll free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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