Watching Sims Park finally starting to come together is somewhat akin to working on a jigsaw puzzle and finally starting to see the overall picture emerge.
I’ve been enjoying the past few weeks as the shade structure for the playground went up and the brick pedestrian walkway took final form.
The new parking for the West Pasco Historical Society is now paved and things on the north side of the park have never looked so good. All that is needed is for some striping to mark out the parking places and signs for the handicapped parking.
My wife and I dropped by the Museum Friday night to visit with the Historical Society folks. Bob Langford and I went out to look at some of the work that is still in progress. It’s not finished, but you can start to tell how nice it is going to be once the work is finished and the sod goes into place.
The brick walkway that replaces the section of Circle Blvd in front of the Historical Society Museum is beautiful. While it can be opened up for parades and special events, it will be a wonderful walking space the rest of the year.
Just imagine it once the rest of the sod goes into place. Much to my pleasant surprise, the pedestrian walkway has been completed in time for the Christmas Parade this Saturday. I’ll be the first to admit that I had my doubts about that a month ago.
There are still some things that have to be completed over the next few weeks, including the installation of the shade structures inside the concert circle. Still, you can see things taking shape. The concrete for the splash pad went in earlier this week.
It is all coming together. We are on track to have everything except the punch list items done by the end of the year. The city manager announced that the grand re-opening of the park will be on January 30th.
One piece of the Sims Park Puzzle that hasn’t been scheduled yet are the projection screens. I’m hoping we can agree on them and get them installed ASAP. The question at hand is whether to build the designer’s recommended 7×13 (widescreen) screens or save money by installing smaller 7×10 screens. Knowing how much everyone regrets cheaping out on the lap pool at the Rec. Center, I’m inclined to support spending the extra money to do the projection screens right.
The Sims Park project is a microcosm of what is happening city-wide. My wife noted one indication of this around Orange Lake last night: There are quite a few more Christmas Cards on display than have been there the last few years. Businesses that are in “hunker down” mode don’t spend money on sponsoring Christmas Cards.
There are an enormous number of moving pieces that all have to come together for a coherent whole. Those pieces are starting to fall into place. If you focus on the individual pieces, you risk missing the overall picture that is emerging.
One newspaper columnist recently took issue with the county’s attempt to define Pasco in terms of “place”. While I don’t agree with some of the county’s decisions, such as allowing urban sprawl on the SR 54/56 corridor, I agree that we need to think of Pasco County in general and New Port Richey is particular in terms of a place where you want to live, work, and play. Nothing will change until we agree to make our area something more than a bedroom community for Tampa. That process is well underway here in New Port Richey.
Good things are happening in the private sector:
The Dulcet won a “Golden Spoon” award this month. A Golden Spoon restaurant in New Port Richey? It’s true. Other New Port Richey restaurants are worthy of praise too. They may not be “Golden Spoon” worthy, but they do what they do very well. Rose’s Bistro and Johnny Grits come immediately to mind, but they aren’t the only ones.
Long vacant storefronts are filling up. This isn’t just in the historic district either.
Developers are nosing around, looking for opportunities. So are small business owners, who are looking for a new home.
What all of these folks have in common is that they believe in New Port Richey as a “place” that matches Pasco County’s “Vibrant Places” slogan. Perfect, no. A little better every day? Yes. Vibrant? Absolutely!
New Port Richey is doing it’s part:
We’ve got a recommendation for a bid award for the Hacienda restoration work on the December 15th agenda. It will be nice to see this project finally underway.
We are fighting blight in all of its forms: Demolishing unsafe structures, addressing the twin issues of crime and drugs, addressing the appearance of both our businesses and our neighborhoods, and taking a stand that our parks and sidewalks are for the citizens of New Port Richey.
All pieces of a puzzle that is coming together to show what will soon be a very attractive place to live, work, and play.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor