Election Day is now behind us. I appreciate the vote of confidence I received from the voters of New Port Richey.
We have accomplished a lot during the past three years, but there is a lot of work ahead for us to tackle during the next three years. In many ways, the next three years will be more challenging, simply because we’ve already addressed many of the “easy to fix” issues. Fixing these more challenging issues will take both hard work and money.
In no particular order these are some of the biggest challenges we will face:
Downtown Parking – We will need a parking garage sooner rather than later. Downtown parking lots are filling up on a regular basis and overflow parking in places like the old Baptist Church property is going away. We need to move on the proposed parking garage before things get critical.
Residential Streets – The ill-fated plan that our staff came up with last summer went down in flames because it wasn’t fair. Our pavement management committee, composed of city residents, should be coming to us with new recommendations soon. The trick is going to be to get all of the residential streets on a repaving schedule that will results in all of these streets being repaved on a 20 year cycle and spreading the cost out over the same time frame. Whether or not to include alleys in this plan also needs to be discussed.
Annexation – We need to take a look at annexing enclaves (eg. Leisure Lane/Van Doren) as well as other areas neighboring the city to smooth out the city boundaries. Annexation may well help both in eliminating crime hot spots just outside of the city limits and increasing our property tax base.
Traffic enforcement – It is a foregone conclusion that the red light cameras are going to go away. The only question is when. There is a concern that accidents will go up once the cameras come down. Additionally, we have an issue of speeding and distracted driving that effects both the commercial and residential areas of the city. We don’t have a formal traffic enforcement division within our police department. It may be time to look at forming one. In the mean time, you will see periodic speed checks like the one I saw Saturday afternoon.
Exterior challenges – The legislature has been extraordinarily busy considering laws that would chip away at the ability of cities to make their own rules on a variety of issues. Additionally, there are some at the county level who would like to take the TIF money that comes to our Community Redevelopment Agency and use it for other parts of the county instead of for fixing up New Port Richey. We will need to make it clear that the citizens of New Port Richey want to control their own destiny.
I look forward to serving as your Mayor for the next three years. These are exciting times for New Port Richey.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor