We drove down to Sims Park Thursday evening to check out the Ban(ne)d Books concert in the park. Instead of parking behind my office, we parked in the Gloria Swanson lot. Exiting the lot, we drove past a large dumpster. My best guess is that we picked up a roofing screw as we drove by the dumpster. I can’t be sure though because the Tampa Bay Multimedia building is one one of four roofing projects I drive past daily in the mile between my home and my office. That doesn’t even count the new Beef O Bradys building that is set well back from the street.
After picking up a similar screw a month or so ago with my convertible after going by a new home under construction near my home, I’ve got the drill down cold. I borrowed my company’s portable air compressor to inflate the tire and then made a bee line for the tire store Friday morning.
Let all of this sink in: Four roofing projects along a one mile stretch of roadway in New Port Richey. New homes going up. A new Beef O Bradys taking shape. A long neglected shopping plaza on Main Street has been spruced up. People are investing in their property in New Port Richey!
Put another way, people who believe in the future of New Port Richey are putting their money where their mouths are. What is even more exciting is that I could list a number of other examples besides the ones listed above.
The little concert that the New Port Richey Public Library and Rock the Boat Productions sponsored Thursday evening in the park was great. Other than during the boat parades, I’ve never seen the natural amphitheater seating next to the Sarazen Scenic Overlook used for anything. The Library put up a 10 x 10 popup tent for the band right next to the river and everyone sat on the amphitheater seats or stood around nearby. The Sno Shack had a tent set up in the back and was doing quite the business selling sno cones.
I’ve talked before about the need for us to spend more of our efforts on regularly scheduled, “little” reasons for folks to come downtown and enjoy themselves. This series is a perfect example. The next concert in this series will be August 18th. I’ve already put it on my calendar.
While we were there, my wife and I talked to a couple of fellows who drove all the way down from Spring Hill to play Pokemon Go in the park. They were by no means alone.
Prior to the park renovations, it was a ghost town on week nights. Thursday night, there was a nice crowd listening to music, dozens of folks walking around playing Pokemon Go, dozens more walking their dogs or just taking an evening stroll by the river. The playground was full and kids were playing in the splashpad.
There is something going on almost every weekend. Last weekend’s free family movie in the park easily drew over 1000 folks. The line for popcorn and drinks was never less than 15 deep the whole time I was there. By the time I left just before 10pm, they were down to “Diet Coke” as the only thing left to drink!
We’ve got another free concert in the park tonight (Saturday, July 22nd). I can’t wait for show time!
The city has not stopped with the Phase 1 upgrades to Sims Park. There are quite a few other things you will see in the coming months.
This past Friday, city staff installed a new “artistic” bike rack on the sidewalk between Ottaway’s Ice Cream and the Bank & Main Cafe. It’s cute. I predict it won’t be the last new bike rack installed around town.
The Design Committee of New Port Richey Main Street, Inc. has been looking at designing and commissioning artistic bike racks for installation around town. I’ve seen some of the drawings. The Design Committee is working on a number of other ideas as well. New Port Richey Main Street, Inc is starting to think well outside their historic “special events” box. Main Street definitely has some “cool” stuff in the works. Watch their Facebook page for regular updates. Main Street is always looking for volunteers, so now would be a good time to contact them and get involved.
It is a very exciting summer in New Port Richey. If you live outside of the city, feel free to come down and enjoy Sims Park and our downtown shops and restaurants. Better yet, you might want to chat with one of our local realtors about the affordable houses within a few blocks of downtown that would be perfect as your next home. You could then walk or drive your golf cart downtown.
Although commercial space is filling up rapidly, there are still opportunities for your company to come to New Port Richey as well. Again, check with your friendly realtor for more information on what is currently available. Mario Iezzoni, the city’s Director of Economic Development, can also point you in the right direction.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor