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Residents offer suggestions for community plan

A cultural center and cleaner canals top the list of concerns Town N' Country residents named at a recent public meeting.

By JANE BOKUN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- The broad issue of what Town 'N Country needs is coming into clearer focus. Thursday night, residents named traffic concerns, the environment and the need for a local cultural center.

It was the fourth in a series of meetings with Hillsborough County consultants and planners who are working on a new community plan for Town 'N Country.

The process is expected to last a year, with community input every step of the way, said Joseph Incorvia, an executive county planner.

"As we get more specific and more focused ideas, we will conduct even larger communitywide meetings so we can take a comprehensive working plan to the Board of County Commissioners in the fall," he said.

About 50 residents attended the public meeting on Thursday, and their chief concerns were a lack of green space, an overabundance of rental apartments and canals that need cleaning.

"Our canals looks terrible," said Stan Hafers of the Town 'N Country Alliance, an umbrella group for neighborhood organizations.

Luz Paz, who owns a translation firm, said she likes the idea of a cultural center.

"Town 'N Country is rich in many different cultures," she said. "I feel we need our own community cultural center. We live with each other. We need to socialize with each other."

Conducting the meeting was J. Kevin Denny, a planning manager with the Genesis Group of Jacksonville. The county planning department two months ago selected Genesis as the lead consultant to subconsultants Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company of Miami.

Denny said he was impressed with the outcome of the meeting.

"These people are very focused," he said. "It was a little different from the ones we've conducted in other areas."

With a new community plan, the consultants said they hope to encourage aesthetic design, promote community values and provide a universal set of goals and visions. The consultants and planners are being aided by a resident steering committee that meets monthly to discuss geographic issues and identify key investors, landlords, business owners and others with influence.

Town 'N Country is not unique in its restructuring effort. Groups in Lutz, Keystone and Odessa, Brandon, Thonotosassa and the University of South Florida area also are seeking to define their goals and priorities.

The next open community planning meeting for Town 'N Country will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Westgate Library on Paula Drive.

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