The infamous and befuddling barricades (photo) blocking Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe from Kinnan St. in the K-Bar Ranch/Live Oak Preserve area of New Tampa continue to stand as the area’s most notorious roadblock. But, whereas the barricades themselves have had zero movement in years, that can no longer be said of talks to remove them.
Pasco County District 2 commissioner Mike Moore and Hillsborough County District 7 City Council member Lisa Montelione sat down for a conversation last month and the two have agreed to re-open discussions to resolve the long-standing Kinnan-Mansfield impasse.
“Lisa and I met and had a great conversation,’’ Moore said. “We agreed to sit down with both of our sides either the first or second week in March. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to get through, but we both agree we want to do what is best for the region and the citizens.”
Montelione placed tackling the Kinnan/Mansfield dilemma — which, if resolved, would give Wesley Chapel and New Tampa drivers an alternative north/south route to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. (and the two-lane Morris Bridge Rd.) — on her list of things to do in 2016. She sent a letter, dated Jan. 21, to the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in the hopes of sparking a new debate.
Moore, however, already had agreed to meet with Montelione before the letter even arrived. He said his first priority has been seeing that the S.R. 56 extension was approved, but once that was settled, he was going to set his sights on Kinnan/Mansfield.
“There are a lot of people for (the Kinnan-Mansfield connection),’’ he said, “but a lot of people have concerns.”
Moore said he will be accompanied at the meeting by Pasco County administrator Michelle Baker, assistant county attorney David Goldstein and Ali Atefi, Pasco’s transportation engineer.
A Scary Situation…
In her letter to the Pasco BCC, Montelione laid out the human side of the City of Tampa’s case for removing the barricades. She wrote that in early November of 2015, K-Bar Ranch (located off Morris Bridge Rd. in New Tampa, just south of the Pasco line) resident Otto Schloeter was cooking lunch for his family when a pan caught fire and severely burned his arm.
The 9-1-1 call from a cell phone ended up going to a tower in Wesley Chapel. The Pasco County 9-1-1 Dispatch Center transferred the call to Hillsborough County Fire Dispatch, which then alerted the wrong Hillsborough County station — nearly 20 miles away — in Thonotasassa, when there are two Tampa Fire Rescue stations (Nos. 21 & especially 22, which is only a mile or so from Morris Bridge Rd.) on Cross Creek Blvd. that are both only a few minutes away from K-Bar.
Hillsborough County’s fire truck eventually made it to Schloeter’s, and called in a Tampa Fire Rescue ambulance.
Due to the confusion, it took nearly two hours to get an actual ambulance to Chloeter and get him from his home in New Tampa to the emergency room at Tampa General Hospital.
While Montelione suggests that more updated emergency responder technology be implemented near the border of New Tampa (which has both unincorporated Hillsborough and City of Tampa communities) and Wesley Chapel, she also says that the pathways that should be connecting counties and cities should be open and as easily accessible as possible.
If Kinnan St. and Mansfield Blvd. had been connected, Montelione wrote, Pasco County Emergency Service Station 26 in Meadow Pointe would have been recognized as the closest station:
“With the mutual aid agreement between our governments, I believe it is fair to say that the completion of this road could have prevented Mr. Schloeter from waiting 45 minutes for emergency responders.”
A similar argument was put forward in 2012 by John Thrasher, the CEO of Excel Music (located in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center on Cross Creek Blvd.). Thrasher organized and submitted a petition with 61 signatures representing roughly 40 businesses on both sides on the county line, to the City of Tampa attorney’s office urging for the completion of the Kinnan/Mansfield connection.
“This is not only about commerce and convenience, but in an area of wildfires, sinkholes, floods and hurricanes, it is a matter of public safety to provide citizens with as many routes as possible in and out of an area,” Thrasher wrote.
The issue of connecting Kinnan St. to Mansfield Blvd has been mired in dispute since the 2,000-ft.-long roadway was paved north to the county line in 2007 by the developer of Live Oak Preserve in New Tampa.
In November of 2012, Goldstein reached out to the City of Tampa attorney’s office about Kinnan/Mansfield and laid out of a list of Pasco’s requirements — which included a commitment from the City and/or K-Bar to pay for traffic-calming improvements at the intersection of Mansfield Blvd. and Beardsley Dr. (which runs along the southern border of Meadow Pointe), as well as at Mansfield Blvd. and Wrencrest Dr. to the north, with a funding commitment by Pasco capped at no more than $500,000.
Those requirements were rejected by Julia Mandell, senior assistant attorney for the City of Tampa, in February of 2013.
Thrasher’s petition a month later also failed to bring about any action.
One of Pasco’s requirements from 2012, however, could be part of any new 2016 negotiations. Pasco asked for four lanes of right of way, or land on which to construct the “Beardsley Extension,” which would link Beardsley Dr. east to Morris Bridge Rd. and take some of the traffic pressure off Mansfield Blvd.
Montelione did not comment on the specifics of the Beardsley Dr. request from 2012, but is open to the extension if the two sides can agree to terms. She did say that it seems unlikely that a Kinnan/Mansfield agreement can be negotiated without the Beardsley Extension being a part of the deal.
Moore says that after years of failed attempts, though, he has hopes for success in 2016.
“I feel good about it,’’ he says.