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Mulieri lays out paving plan again

Some residents can't afford to have dirt roads paved, so cheaper alternatives are needed, she says.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Even Pat Mulieri says she may have beat the dirt-road horse to death.

"I've brought this up a hundred times, and I promise you if the board doesn't agree, this is the last time I'll bring it up," Mulieri, the County Commission chairwoman, said during Tuesday night's meeting.

Mulieri repeatedly has pushed for the county to develop an alternative paving program for residents along private dirt roads who cannot afford the paving assesment program. On Tuesday, she was host of another presentation on alternate paving materials that are not as costly as asphalt.

The other commissioners agreed to hold a workshop on the alternate materials but said any residents who want to pave their roads with the cheaper materials should be warned that they don't last as long as regular asphalt.

"You'd better put a gosh darn disclaimer on it," Commissioner Steve Simon said. County officials say the cheaper mix will last seven to 10 years, while regular asphalt is good for 18 years.

County Administrator John Gallagher said the workshop will be scheduled sometime in the next few weeks. Gallagher said he didn't mind offering private-road residents an alternative to asphalt as long as the county recorded a disclaimer along with the property deed so future buyers of the land would know the roads aren't paved with regular asphalt.

County public works staffers have recommended against using asphalt alternatives, saying they were afraid the county would end up having to maintain substandard roads.

But Mulieri pushed ahead, saying something needed to be done for residents in the central and eastern parts of the county who choke on the dust from dirt roads whenever cars pass.

"This is something I feel really strongly about," Mulieri said.

Under the county's pavement-assesment program, a majority of residents along a road must agree to allow the county to pave the road. They then pay back the county, but the total assesment per home can be hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

Also on Tuesday, county commissioners received a report from Emergency Management Director Michele Baker about the county's surprising loss of hurricane shelter space. State officials inspected the shelters the county had planned to use and found that most of them would not meet new, stricter standards. The county plans to retrofit many of those schools during the next couple of years.

The county also may begin issuing purchase orders to clean the wastewater-contaminated sprinkler systems for residents in southeastern Pasco developments. Although the county planned to credit residents' cleanup costs in their water bills after the county accidentally contaminated irrigation systems, several people have called to say they cannot afford the up-front cleanup costs. Gallagher said his staff is looking into whether the county can issue purchase orders for those residents.

-- Alisa Ulferts covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is ulferts@sptimes.com.

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