HOLIDAY — Up or down? Forwards or backwards? Bright or dark?
Signs of progress mix with persistent problems of blight to make the Colonial Hills area a study of contrasts.
Some 100 people took part in the third annual Walk Around the Block bus tour April 21 of the expansive neighborhoods that border S.R. 54 and U.S. 19.
Proposed developments might possibly lift property values for all homeowners in the area, Kelly Miller, president of the Colonial Hills Civic Association, speculated.
Lennar developers propose up to 420 single-family houses near the southeastern corner of S.R. 54 and Madison Street, along with office space and retail. Miller calls the concept “awesome” if owners of existing homes can fix up their dwellings to leverage new opportunities.
“I don’t want (Colonial Hills) to wake up on the wrong side of the tracks,” Miller said if existing homes are neglected next to the homes Lennar might build.
Also, crews are building a RaceTrac gas station on the northwest corner of S.R. 54 and Madison Street that could add turn lanes for Madison Street traffic, Miller noted. Workers demolished the former Bank of America branch that once stood on the site.
Colonial Hills leaders are even talking with Wal-Mart executives about what might be done with the vacant land at S.R. 54 and Grand Boulevard, Miller said. Wal-Mart wanted the parcel to be the of one of its Supercenter stores but abandoned the plan in 2007 in the face of objections from area residents.
The Anclote Coastal Trail project also has construction funds earmarked in the county’s fiscal 2018 budget. The Pasco trail could connect with a planned extension of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, to the south. Homebuyers look for amenities such as trails, Miller emphasized.
Bus tour participants need look no farther than the Tanglewood Mobile Village Association clubhouse where Colonial Hills held its event. “They’re a family here,” Miller remarked about the progress made by mobile home park residents.
Despite positive signs, many negative trends still bedevil the Colonial Hills area, Miller said.
Miller thanked Pasco Commission Chairman Mike Moore for spearheading an ordinance last fall to control dumping at donation bins for charities.
Illegal yard signs and “snipe signs” tacked to utility poles are the bane of her existence, Miller said, pointing to a photo collage on screen.
Nuisance landlords as well as homeowners have generated many complaints, Miller added. Out of the past 200 calls to authorities, 92 rental properties generated complaints compared to 108 homeowners.
Flooding persists on Moog Road and Jarvis Street pending the dredging of a retention pond.
Project New Hope was formed in the area to help educate the public about blight. Goals of Colonial Hills leaders include registration of residential rental property, requirements for owners to provide garbage pickup, requirements for lawn service and a ban on tarps covering roofs or junk.
A large delegation of Pasco Sheriff’s Office deputies attended the Walk Around the Block meeting to explain how they hope to keep problems in check.
Walk participants included Moore and fellow commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Jack Mariano, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Property Appraiser Gary Joiner, United Way CEO Alice Delgardo and West Pasco Chamber President Chip Wichmanowski.