By Matt Wiley
While it looked hopeful in November, when Pasco County officials reached out to the City of Tampa and the developers of K-Bar Ranch about connecting the city and Pasco County through Kinnan St. in New Tampa and Mansfield Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, negotiations once again have come to a standstill.
But, business owners located along the Cross Creek Blvd. corridor hope that a new petition will help spark new talks.
On March 18, a 16-page petition (photo) started by John Thrasher, CEO of Excel Music (located in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center on Cross Creek Blvd.), was submitted to the City of Tampa Attorney’s Office in hopes that the 61 signatures from business owners, employees and even some customers along Cross Creek Blvd. would help sway the respective parties’ opinions. The signatures represent about 40 different businesses, with owners of several living on both sides of the county line.
“This project has been mulled around for years and everyone knows that it is absolutely essential that the residents of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel are given an alternative north/south route to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd,” Thrasher says in the petition. “This is not only about commerce and convenience, but in an area of wild fires, 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.”
The possible connection of the two roads is at a roadblock following the City of Tampa’s response to conditions that Pasco Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein sent November 26, which said that Pasco would be willing to connect if the City and K-Bar would commit to paying no more than $500,000 for traffic calming improvements, or traffic signals, at the intersection of Mansfield Blvd. and Beardsley Dr., which runs along the southern border of Meadow Pointe, and at Mansfield and Wrencrest Dr.
Pasco also wanted the City and K-Bar to commit 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. Other requirements also were included.
However, on February 25, Julia Mandell, senior assistant attorney for the City of Tampa, responded in a letter.
“At this time, neither the City nor the Developer is in a position to be responsive to the Pasco Requirements, as outlined,” Mandell wrote. “Certainly the City looks forward to working with Pasco County to find holistic solutions to the transportation needs in the New Tampa area.”
Mandell references a major real estate transaction in K-Bar Ranch, which took place on December 31, making Columbus, OH-based M/I Homes the primary developer in K-Bar Ranch as a factor in the City’s decision not to comply with Pasco’s requirements.
“After ongoing discussions between the parties, the City and the Developer may be revisiting the existing zoning and the terms of the (Annexation) Agreement given the change or conditions and the needs within the New Tampa area,” Mandell wrote.
Goldstein says that there really isn’t anything Pasco can do until the City and K-Bar Ranch are ready to negotiate.
“The ball is in their court,” he says.
District 7 Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione says that she wants to see the roads connected, but that it will take cooperation on both sides.
“I’m glad that Pasco has opened the opportunity for discussions,” she explains. “However, there’s a ‘give and take’ here. There’s a lot of money attached to that list (of requirements), but I want to move these discussions along.”