District 7 Tampa City Council member Luis Viera says that he feels it’s necessary to host Town Hall meetings in K-Bar Ranch — New Tampa’s only major community that is still growing — at least twice each year.
“There’s so much growth happening in K-Bar, and the residents have so many critical needs when it comes to mobility, fire and public safety issues,” Viera told about a dozen K-Bar Ranch residents at his most recent Town Hall on Mar. 13. For that reason, he added that, “It’s important to bring as many city officials as possible — as often as possible — to K-Bar.
To that end, Viera brought with him Tampa Police Department (TPD) Dist. 2 Major Brett Owen, Tampa Fire rescue (TFR) District Chief Bob Brown and traffic safety coordinator William Porth from the city’s Transportation Mobility Dept.
Each of the speakers made a brief presentation and took questions from the residents in attendance at the meeting.
Here are some of the highlights of that Mar. 13 Town Hall event:
• Porth was the first speaker, as Viera said, “There’s always a new stop sign that needs to be added here,” and other transportation issues to deal with as K-Bar continues to grow. Porth mentioned that since the last time he visited New Tampa, “I have been named the construction project coordinator for the city’s ‘Vision Zero’ campaign,” which is working to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the city to zero. It’s a lofty goal, but we’re going to continue to work on that.”
Porth also said that three new stop signs have been installed along K-Bar Ranch Pkwy., “which pretty soon, will connect through to Morris Bridge Rd.” He noted, however, that as the community gets closer to its build-out, “we may have to remove those stop signs.” Porth also said that the city is looking at increasing the speed limit on K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. from 30 to 35 miles per hour (mph), “because we agree that the speed limit is a little low, although if we raise it to 35, people will go at least 40 mph.” He also said the city is considering reducing the speed limit north of Pride Elementary to 15 mph.
In addition, Viera said he plans to meet soon with new Dist. 2 Pasco County Commissioner Seth Weightman (who replaced Mike Moore) regarding not only the Tampa-Hillsborough-Pasco connection at Kinnan St.-Mansfield Blvd., but also at two other planned road connections.
Also discussed was the possibility of adding a stop sign or, preferably (according to Porth) a traffic signal where Live Oak Preserve residents access Kinnan St.
• Viera also mentioned that of the 24 TFR stations in the city, four of the six stations located in New Tampa’s 33647 zip code, “have the city’s slowest response times.” TFR’s Brown mentioned that $1 million of the city’s public safety funding has been spent in New Tampa, including what is known as a “heavy rescue unit” at Station No. 21 on Cross Creek Blvd., “so we don’t have to wait for the unit downtown to be able to cut people out of their vehicles.” Stations 23 (in the Grand Hampton area) and 21 also have had their Basic Life Support ambulances replaced with upgraded Advanced Life Support units.
• Meanwhile, TPD’s Owen said that although there is “almost no crime out here” in New Tampa, “most of the calls we get are either about people speeding or kids going through people’s yards.” He also noted that there has been “about a minute increase in response times here, which may not seem like a lot, but it is a concern for us that we’re working to correct.”
• Viera also talked about the opening of one of his pet projects — the New Tampa All-Abilities Park in Tampa Palms — as well as the fact that there is land that is owned by the city in K-Bar that could become a new park, but it would be operated by the county. “But, I do believe New Tampa needs more city-run parks out here,” he said.
He also mentioned that the repaving of Tampa Palms Blvd. has begun and that New Tampa Blvd. in West Meadows will be next. And finally, Viera noted how important it is for all New Tampa residents to cast a ballot in the upcoming Municipal Runoff Election on April 25, where three citywide City Council seats will be filled.