This is the first in a series of NPR Notes focusing on reimagining our city. To quote George Bernard Shaw:
You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
It is time for all of us to step up our dreaming about a future New Port Richey, not as it was or is, but what it could be.
Most of our visible redevelopment efforts have been in the historic downtown. Redevelopment outside of the historic downtown has been less visible, but there have been a number of steps taken to move other areas forward.
One of these is the US 19 corridor.
The most obvious change has been the work done landscaping the medians. It took a bit for the perennial peanut grass to take root, but it looks great now. All of those yellow flowers you see in the median are from the perennial peanut grass.
Not quite two and a half years ago, we put the motels on a mandatory three year notice that they can no longer base their business on extended stay rentals. The motel rooms lack basic facilities necessary to function as an extended stay room. Sadly, many of the motel operators were preying on the poor, charging $1400-$1600 per month for a basic motel room. The notice period expires this coming April.
We have forced some motels to close, based on conditions that were unfit for human habitation. We’ll continue to insist that our motels meet minimum health and safety standards.
The owners of one large motel on US 19 are in the process of preparing to demolish the buildings and replace them with townhomes.
Just off 19 is the Leisure Lane / Van Doren neighborhood. We’ve been working with both Pasco County and Habitat for Humanity to clean up the area and replace the dilapidated mobile homes with affordable single family homes. My heartfelt thanks go to our staff, County Administrator Dan Biles, the entire County Commission, and the Habitat organization for helping to make this transformation a reality.
US 19 has been notable for the large number of used car dealers with vehicles covering every inch of the available space. Special thanks to Friendly Kia and Julian’s Auto Showcase who were instrumental in helping us establish standards to improve the appearance of car dealerships.
We’ve done our part by helping make the new Keiser University building and the public parking garage a reality. Next up will be a brand name hotel immediately south of the University. We expect to see ground broken on that project before the end of the year.
There is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done to clean up US 19 and make it welcoming to people visiting our city. Some buildings and properties can be fixed up and made more presentable. I suspect that some properties would benefit from a bulldozer and a completely fresh start. I’m hopeful that we can encourage property owners all along US 19 to step up and do their part to improving the area.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor