Public safety continues to be one of Tampa City Council member Luis Viera’s primary concerns in District 7, the area he represents that includes all of the communities within the city limits in New Tampa. And, while his primary focus may be on some of the struggling fire stations south of our area, a fire station that has yet to be funded built in K-Bar Ranch almost always makes its way into any conversation with Viera.
When he met with a smattering of K-Bar residents last month at the community’s amenity center — with staff from the Tampa Police (TPD), Parks & Recreation and Mobility departments in tow — public safety was at the forefront of much of the conversation.
Viera assured the residents in attendance that he was fighting to make sure the planned fire station in K-Bar Ranch comes to fruition, which would help reduce the below-average response times in that part of New Tampa. Because there remains only two entrances into western K-Bar — the main entrance at K-Bar Ranch Pkwy., and the less convenient way via Basset Creek Dr. past Pride Elementary — a fire station for a community that will have more than 2,000 homes with little access makes sense, Viera said. (Note: Easton Park has an entrance/exit off Morris Ridge Rd., but K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. currently does not connect the east and west sides of the community.)
Another access point, however, also would improve public safety response, although it is unclear other than planned connections at Meadow Pointe Blvd. and Wyndfields Blvd. leading into Pasco County, where those access roads could be constructed.
When leaving the growing New Tampa community, K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. and Bassett Creek Dr. both funnel into Kinnan St., so some residents argue that really, the only way in or out of K-Bar is through Kinnan.
And, in the case of any fender bender on Kinnan St., “People literally cannot get out of this neighborhood,” says Cindy Gustavel, who lives in K-Bar’s Heron Preserve subdivision.
There also were concerns expressed over speeding down both Kinnan St. and K-Bar Ranch Pkwy., a wide open stretch of road running east-west that was completed in 2019. Speed bumps aren’t a popular option to slow speeders, and police jurisdiction (K-Bar Ranch is right on the boundary between the City of Tampa and unincorporated Hillsborough County) is confusing for residents when deciding who to call to complain.
Also, there are no bike lanes painted on the new road
“You are taking your life into your own hands on that road (K-Bar Ranch Pkwy.),” says resident John Bowersox, who is hoping residents can be surveyed to figured out a solution.
Residents in attendance at the meeting also expressed concern about construction truck traffic on roads like Bassett Creek Dr. and Wild Tamarind Dr. — where children, bicyclists and pedestrians are more likely to be — and would prefer a sign directing those trucks to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy.
A proposed park in K-Bar Ranch on roughly 55 acres of land (including the possibility of additional acreage from the county in Live Oak Preserve) which has been discussed for years, remains in limbo, Viera said.
Originally planned to be a partnership between the city, which would maintain and run the park, and Hillsborough County, which would pay to build it, the discussion seems to have hit an impasse over what purpose the park would actually serve, in terms of whether it should focus on athletic fields or green space and trails. Viera told residents that resolving the issue and getting the park built has become one of his goals.