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Council: Church stays as it is

New Port Richey leaders say it isn't worth $2,000 to move Our Lady Queen of Peace again.

By JENNIFER GOLDBLATT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 21, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Even if it isn't exactly where it's supposed to be, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church is going to stay put.

The city spent just over $31,000 moving the church from Washington Street to Sims Park to make way for the new police station. After it was moved June 5, council member Tom Finn alerted City Manager Gerald Seeber that the church was about 25 feet from where the council indicated that it wanted it, and facing in a northwest direction instead of west.

The church is now adjacent to the West Pasco Historical Society, facing Grand Boulevard. Finn last week asked council members to move the church to comply with the original plan to face a more westerly direction. Seeber said he told designers Johnson-Frey Turzak Group Inc. to put the church west of the Historical Society, according to the council's direction, and that's where the church sits. The church was originally built facing south, but a 1921 hurricane lifted it from its foundations and turned it to the west.

Council members voted 3-1 Tuesday to keep the 83-year-old church where it is, with Finn casting the dissenting vote. Mayor Wendy Brenner was absent from the meeting. Council members said even if the church is not exactly where they indicated they wanted it, a move was not worth spending an estimated $2,000.

The church "is to be facing west, and if there's a slight variation on the compass, it's not worth spending the money," said council member Ginny Miller.

Added Deputy Mayor Scott Chittum: "It may not be where we thought, but we never had engineered plans," and the council can still create a campus later, he said.

At a work session last fall, council members approved a consultant's conceptual plan that showed the church facing west, and far enough from the Historical Society so other historic buildings could eventually be moved there, creating a campuslike setting.

Also Tuesday, council members voted 4-0 to accept an offer from the Department of Community Affairs to help the city find a solution to longstanding flooding and pollution problems in Jasmine Acresthat have affected about 40 residents there. The project has faced delays as the city has considered different design plans and tried to get financial assistance.

The city has spent about $63,000 on designs the council rejected.

In years past, the city has approached other agencies it believes might be contributing to the perceived problem, or benefit from the solution, including the Florida Department of Transportation, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the city of Port Richey and county government.

The Department of Community Affairshas offered to facilitate discussions between the agencies and possibly help them find financial assistance.

- Jennifer Goldblatt covers the city of New Port Richey. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6229.

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