Pinellas, Pasco each has benefits
By DOUGLAS SPANGLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001
Charlie Brown and Lucy. Minneapolis and St. Paul. Sonny and Cher. All of these are great combinations, complementary to each other but sometimes with other than smooth relations, and sometimes with downright hostility toward each other.
As a recent emigre from Pasco County to Pinellas County, I often felt that the same sort of relationship exists between the two counties.
Here, then, is the view of both counties, from one who has lived in both.
Life in Pasco
For the folks who live in Pinellas and have wondered about life "way up north," much of what you have heard about it is true, but also much is false.
It is true that Pasco is less expensive to live in. It is not just the penny less sales tax on each dollar spent, it is the much less expensive homes. Crafts people and others who help take care of your home seem to be a bit gentler on your wallet as well. Pasco is a bit more spacious when it comes to getting to where you want to go. The first thing I noticed after moving to Pinellas was that I was putting far fewer miles on my car. But "room to breathe" is one of Pasco's biggest strengths.
Pasco has a reputation for being a rural area in many ways, and one can still see cows and orange groves there. However, in what might be called a severe case of "Pinellas envy," the county is becoming more and more built up as it attempts to close the gaps in its wide open spaces. Not one but two Wal-Mart Supercenters are being built in west Pasco, and one of Pasco's repeatedly stated ambitions is to become a tourist-oriented county like Pinellas, even though the folks who have this ambition have not quite figured out what the tourist attraction is.
In general, the folks in Pasco are more laid-back, and often you can get a "thank you" or "hello" more easily than you can in Pinellas, which seems to be populated with more busy and preoccupied people. The general pattern of life seems more Southern, in the tradition of old Florida.
We enjoyed living in Pasco. We would live there again. It was simply time for a change in our lives.
Life in Pinellas
The first thing one notices about the pace of life in Pinellas is the traffic. Although Pasco is often backed up and jammed during the rush hour, Pinellas manages to get backed up even during the non-rush times. Also, as badly as the folks in Pasco seem to drive, the drivers seem to be wilder in Pinellas.
Along with a faster pace of life and higher home prices, Pinellas has its charms. There are about 40 to 50 places we love within 3 miles of our home in Palm Harbor. This proximity of businesses makes one live nearly a "Seinfeld-like" existence, in which one seems to be connected to an urban area without many of the downsides of an urban area.
Despite its reputation as one of the most urban and impacted counties in Florida, Pinellas definitely has its charms and attractions among the many businesses and crowded roads. The beaches are without parallel. Mingling with the tourist crowds in St. Pete Beach, for instance, makes you happy that thousands of people want to visit the very county in which you have chosen to live permanently.
Also, Pinellas seems to have succeeded in civilizing its urban character by developing the Pinellas Trail, many parks and other green spaces so that residents are never far from some pastoral respite.
Pinellas should not envy Pasco for its abundant water and gentler way of life, nor Pasco envy Pinellas for its supposedly more sophisticated urban character and tourist attractions. Each county provides two fairly distinctive lifestyles for Floridians of different temperaments.
These two places should exist side by side, at least in the opinion of this former Midwestern boy. If you want a different flavor to go with your day, either is just a few miles away.
- Douglas Spangler, a writer, former university administrator and former New Port Richey resident, lives in Palm Harbor.
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