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Port Richey should start anew, with a plan
By A TIMES EDITORIAL
Published January 16, 2008
Port Richey council member Mark Hashim called buying a blighted mobile home park with no plan for the land "the worst idea in the history of bad ideas." Harsh rhetoric, but certainly not an invalid sentiment.
Port Richey now has an opportunity to catch its breath and devise a better idea after its rushed effort to buy the vacant Port Richey Mobile Home Park on River Gulf Drive came to a halt last week when the city and seller could not agree to terms. It presents an opportunity for the council, under the administration of a new, energetic city manager, and with citizen input, to devise a more thoughtful plan for redeveloping the city.
Council member Nancy Britton pushed the proposed acquisition of the 1.6-acre park, which is near her Grand Boulevard home, even though police reported the complaints of criminal behavior declined after the occupants began moving out several months ago. Eliminating blight is a legitimate use of redevelopment funding, but this purchase plan came with no serious thought of what to do with the park if the city acquired it. Pursing the park so aggressively also made little sense considering the property had been on the market for 16 months and faced foreclosure.
Instead of speculating in real estate during a downturn in the market, Port Richey would be better served by a substantial dialogue on improving the quality of life within the community. This is a city in which a substantial number of voters think the municipal government does not need to exist. Devising a redevelopment plan beyond unfinanced residential canal dredging would help build faith in City Hall.
Let's face it, over the past dozen years, Port Richey's commercial development is best known for off-shore gambling, unrealized potential on the waterfront and being the poster child for unanticipated Wal-Mart traffic troubles. A master plan for the waterfront district never moved beyond a consultant's report, a parking garage didn't materialize and there is no list of neighborhood-by-neighborhood improvements. The lack of planning is disconcerting, considering that the city has received more than $3-million in public money since designating itself as blighted five years ago.
Port Richey needs a fresh start on redevelopment. The scuttled attempt to buy a dilapidated mobile home park presents the council a chance to move from acting on whims and individual pet peeves to acting in the best interests of the city. It would be unwise to let such an opportunity pass without acting.