This is the view from the end of Kinnan St., which runs north from Cross Creek Blvd. Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe is on the other side of the barrier, about 40 feet away. (Photo: John C. Cotey)

The decades-old debate over connecting Kinnan St. in New Tampa to Mansfield Blvd. in Wesley Chapel appears to have, pardon the pun, reached the end of the road.

After years of meetings and studies and community activism, the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) sided with the Meadow Pointe residents who claim that connecting the roads would put their children’s safety at risk.

On June 11, the Pasco MPO voted unanimously to forward their recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners that Wesley Chapel be connected to New Tampa’s growing K-Bar Ranch community via two roads further to the east of Kinnan-Mansfield (neither has been completed) — Meadow Pointe Blvd. and Wyndfields Blvd., both of which would eventually connect to K-Bar Ranch Blvd. (at different locations).

But, Mansfield Blvd. and Kinnan St. will not be connected for area commuters.

“Everybody that came today spoke against opening up Kinnan and Mansfield,” said Pasco District 2 Commissioner Mike Moore, who represents the Meadow Pointe area, at the June 11 Pasco MPO meeting. “There was one person who was in favor of it, and he lives in New Tampa.”

Hunter’s Green resident Dr. Jim Davison was the person who spoke in favor of connecting Kinnan-Mansfield.

The final vote to settle the roadways question was expected to be held In August, in Dade City.

Considering that all five members on the Pasco BOC also are on the MPO Board that voted unanimously in favor of making only two of the three connections that were considered, it is almost certain to pass.

Hillsborough County District 2 commissioner Ken Hagan and District 7 Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, both of whom have fought for the connection for years, expressed disappointment and frustration over the Pasco MPO’s decision.

Hagan called it “extremely parochial and irrational.”

However, both New Tampa representatives took some solace in the fact that the famed 40-foot patch of dirt, weeds and trees (and often, garbage and abandoned furniture) separating the roads may be paved over, connecting the roads for use by emergency service vehicles — with a mechanical traffic arm keeping local traffic out — as well as providing a path for bikers and pedestrians.

Public safety was one of the primary reasons both Hagan and Viera had fought for the connection.

“I’m pleased that Pasco County is finally recognizing the significant public safety concerns with Kinnan-Mansfield remaining closed,” Hagan said. “I think this is a necessary first step, and we will live to fight another day.”

Davison was less pleased with the concession for emergency vehicle access. A longtime traffic activist and emergency room physician, Davison said that most people come to the hospital emergency room by private vehicle, not an ambulance, and those people will still face a longer trip to get care.

“Connecting Kinnan and Mansfield is in the public good,” Dr. Davison said.

After years of political arguments and one costly study, Pasco’s MPO turned to its residents to help render a decision.

The MPO was presented with the results from its recent online Pasco Resident Survey, which asked which of four options for connecting Meadow Pointe to New Tampa were preferred.

Meghan McKinney of the consulting firm AECOM, which conducted the initial Wesley Chapel Roadway Connections study which produced the choices for the online survey, said the total number of eligible respondents was 1,180.

The option most favored by those polled online was Option 2, which asked if respondents favored connecting only Meadow Pointe Blvd. to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. 

Nearly 68 percent responded yes, with 32 percent saying no.

The MPO, however, voted unanimously to forward the second-most popular option, Option 3 — connecting both the Meadow Pointe Blvd. Extension and Wyndfields Blvd. to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. — which 66 percent favored.

Connecting only Kinnan-Mansfield was never an option — nor was it an option that was studied in the year-long Roadways Connections Study commissioned by the county — but the controversial connection was included with the other roads in both Option 1 and Option 4. Option 1, which asked if residents would be in favor of connecting Kinnan to Mansfield as well as the Meadow Pointe Blvd. Extension to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy., received a “yes” vote by 54 percent of respondents. 

The least popular option from the survey results was No. 4, which would have connected Mansfield Blvd., the Meadow Pointe Blvd. Extension and Wyndfields Blvd. — in other words, all three potential connections to the New Tampa area. Even so, a majority of those responding, 52 percent, still voted in favor of that option as well.

Dr. Valerie Mainguy, a Meadow Pointe resident who works at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church on Cross Creek Blvd., suggested that those numbers were tainted. She told the board she was privy to a “huge initiative” by New Tampa residents to use Pasco addresses and names to skew the results to get Kinnan-Mansfield connected

She said the “fraud” that happened is well known and public knowledge, although she offered no proof of it.

A majority of those saying no to any connections involving Mansfield Blvd. came from those who live along the road. They were signified by red dots on a map showing where the respondents resided.

“The ones that would utilize that connection don’t want that connection,” Moore said.

Those who showed up to the MPO meeting spoke against adding any more traffic to Mansfield Blvd.

“I’m a red dot because I’m the father of two boys that ride their bikes up and down (Mansfield) every day to go to school,” said Meadow Pointe II resident Brad Jorgensen.

Like many of those opposed to connecting Kinnan St. to Mansfield Blvd., Jorgensen cited the safety of children in the neighborhoods along the road.

“This is about not turning our neighborhood into alternate Bruce B. Downs,” Jorgensen said.

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