NEW PORT RICHEY — Parking can get a little tight downtown during special events and high-traffic evenings and city council worked to address that last week.
The city and Pasco County entered into an interlocal agreement regarding the Lafayette Street parking lot, just south of Main Street.
City Manager Debbie Manns introduced the arrangement to council during its March 19 regular meeting. The agreement was the subject of discussions she’s had with Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles on multiple occasions, Manns said.
The county-owned lot is behind its building on Main Street and adjacent to a city-owned lot. The proposal includes a redesign of all parking areas to increase the number of spaces from 71 to 102 and landscaping enhancements. Once completed, the agreement includes a provision that 30 spaces be reserved for county-owned vehicles.
The Pasco County Commission approved the interlocal agreement at its Feb. 19 meeting. It will last for five years and automatically renew annually unless terminated by either party.
City Councilman Jeff Starkey said he is all for the deal struck with the county, but did raise questions about the need for reserving 30 parking spaces for county vehicles.
“I love an interlocal agreement,” Starkey said. “That means we’re working with each other. I love that this is going to open up more parking spaces and add landscaping. It’s very much needed. I don’t know if you guys have noticed since Kazu’s has opened, that parking lot there is quite full on a regular basis. The Social’s going in next door. We’re going to need more spaces.
The county, Starkey noted, owns a “tremendous” amount of land on Sunset Road, that is used by the marine unit for the sheriff’s office.
“Why can’t they just park at that facility, the two that they own side by side on Sunset and free up those 30 extra spots for downtown?” Starkey said. “I know they own the property and we’re working with them, but to me it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them that we desperately need these parking spaces.”
In response to Starkey’s request, Manns stated that the topic’s been discussed with county officials.
“From the discussions that have taken place, it sounds as if the county may be willing to do that when we’re hosting a special event,” Manns said. “But as a daily commitment they weren’t interested in moving cars and picking up people and driving them back and all of the other logistics that might be associated with it. They are, though, vacating the building in what they expect to be less than a year.”
Also agreed to Tuesday was a final pay request for work related to the 2016 Street Improvement Project. The long-term paving and street reconstruction project was based on the city’s 2015 Roadway Needs Assessment Report.
Roadways included in the project are Congress Street from Massachusetts to Louisiana avenues, Madison Street from Massachusetts Avenue to Cecelia Drive, Orchid Lake Road, Evies Way, Francine Drive, Rutillo Court, Ferguson Court, Grant Avenue, Drinkard Drive, Senate Lane, Daily Lane, Executive Drive, Tropic Drive and Water’s Edge Drive. A five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of Congress Street from Louisiana to Massachusetts avenues is also included.
The city’s Pavement Management Plan allocates $1.7 million per year for street resurfacing or reconstruction. The city’s plan is to incorporate as many streets as possible each year. If total bids fall under the $1.7 million annual allocation, schedules for additional streets may be pushed forward.
After hearing Public Works Director Robert Rivera’s overview of the street improvement projects, Starkey stated the importance of maintenance after completion.
“On Madison Street the streetscaping looks great but I want to be sure 100 percent that we are going to maintain the landscaping,” Starkey said. “I don’t want it to turn into East Main on the east side of the post office. That improvement and streetscaping we did along with Pasco County … it’s a total waste of money to put in plants and streetscaping unless we maintain them properly like we’ve been doing on Marine Parkway.”