Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who has tried to get Kinnan St. in New Tampa connected with Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe II — the infamous Kinnan-Mansfield connection — for more than a decade, may finally get his wish.
Well, partially, anyway.
While Pasco County is firmly committed to not connecting the two roads to general traffic, it has expressed a willingness to connect them for fire rescue and other emergency vehicles. With no other options remaining, Hagan — who represents New Tampa as part of Hillsborough’s District 2 —thinks it’s time to make a deal.
At a Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting last month, Hagan introduced a motion to direct the county staff to meet with their Pasco counterparts to forge an interlocal agreement authorizing the Kinnan-Mansfield connection, for public safety purposes, to finally become a real thing.
The two sides were expected to meet last week.
“I basically introduced the item because I have been trying to make this connection for well over a decade now and, unfortunately, Pasco has steadfastly refused,” Hagan says. “While they have not completely seen the light, this is certainly a step in the right direction.”
If a deal is struck, the roads will be connected, and an entry-and-exit bar will be installed to keep vehicular traffic out. The two counties also will be connected at Kinnan-Mansfield by pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Residents of Meadow Pointe II have fought the connection because they say it would add too much traffic to Mansfield Blvd., which is home to community entrances and area schools.
Proponents of connecting the roads have argued that it would be good for local businesses and residents and would help ease traffic in the area, while also benefiting fire rescue and emergency medical services, as the two counties have a mutual aid agreement.
Currently, roughly 30 feet of overgrown grass and bushes — and a good deal of junk that has been dumped in the area — is all that separates the two roads, which were never connected when Kinnan St. was completed in 2007.
Since then, the counties have bickered on numerous occasions over whether or not the roads should be connected.
In 2015, then-District 7 Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione re-ignited the debate after K-Bar Ranch resident Otto Schloeter severely burned his arm and did not receive medical attention for 45 minutes, after his call was bounced between the two counties before a crew was finally dispatched. Because the roads weren’t connected, Montelione argued, it took emergency medical services twice as long as it should have to reach Schloeter.
Luis Viera, who replaced Montelione on the City Council, picked up the fight, but also to no avail.
Pasco County commissioned an engineering firm to study potential connections between the K-Bar Ranch area and Pasco County.
In June, Pasco’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted unanimously to recommend connections to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. in New Tampa’s K-Bar Ranch community at Meadow Pointe and Wyndfields Blvds., while also recommending the first responders connection at Kinnan-Mansfield.
Pasco County’s commissioners have yet to vote on it.
“Is it what we wanted in full? No,’ says Viera, who has been busy holding meetings hoping to resolve the impasse. “But, does it address our public safety concerns? Yes.”
Viera says he had conversations recently with residents of K-Bar Ranch, which is building 400 more homes but still only has one way, Kinnan St., to exit K-Bar to the west.
“They seem supportive,” Viera says.
Hagan said it is his understanding that Pasco will vote for the public safety connection.
Hagan secured $250,000 from the county in September of 2017 for what he hoped would be a connection open to everyone.
That money is still available to build the public safety connection.