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Published January 1, 2008
If your New Year's resolutions include
getting more exercise, here is a chance to exercise your influence on a plan to
increase bicycling and other outdoor recreational opportunities in Pasco County.
Later this month and again in February,
Pasco County and the National Parks Service will hold workshops to devise a
long-term greenways and blueways system to provide bicycling, hiking, canoeing
and kayaking trails.
The Florida Greenway system already
includes multiple locations in Pasco: the Suncoast Trail running parallel to the
Suncoast Parkway; the Pithlachascotee River Trail; the Hillsborough River Trail,
which actually begins in Pasco before meandering south; and the Withlacoochee
State Trail, which ends in Trilby. Advocates are seeking connections to trails
elsewhere. Trilby community activist Denny Mihalinec, for instance, is reminding
east Pasco residents to continue lobbying for a trail to link Trilby to Dade
City and further south. Westsiders want a way to increase access to the popular
It is easy to lose patience because of the
slow pace of developing recreational trails. Mihalinec began his push a decade
ago. New Port Richey officials were unaware in 2006 they were sitting on a
5-year-old state grant of $20,000 to devise a trail system to link Sims Park to
a parking garage that was never pursued. Likewise, Port Richey investigated but
didn't make progress on a proposed walking path along the Pithlachascotee River
and beneath the bridge on U.S. 19. It would connect the east side of the city to
the waterfront and bike trail west of the highway and was envisioned as a way to
link the city to trails to the Starkey Wilderness Preserve.
The state hasn't been much better.
Development of the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park including planned canoe
trails has been slow to materialize nearly a decade after the preserved land
west of Gulfview Square mall became a state park.
Still, there have been successes. With
state help, Dade City was able to complete the 1-miletrail from Eighth Street at
Church Avenue to just beyond Fairfield Avenue, and $3-million is set aside from
the Penny for Pasco sales tax to build a trail from Massachusetts Avenue to
These upcoming workshops are part of a
long-range plan for tens of millions of dollars worth of bicycle and pedestrian
paths across the county to be constructed along natural gas and water
transmission lines and as part of highway projects. Potential users abound.
Americans bought 18.2-million bicycles in 2006, making bicycles and accessories
a $5.8-billion-a-year industry, according to the National Bicycle Dealers
More opportunities should be encouraged,
considering the popularity of the trail along the Suncoast Parkway and the
natural fit with local attempts to capitalize on ecotourism and nature-based
The workshops are a chance to help devise
exactly where those future routes should be located. The public then shouldn't
sit back and just spin its wheels. It should be aggressive about participating,
demand a timeline and be willing to help finance improvements that go beyond
lines on paper.
If you go
Pasco County Greenways, Trails and Blueways
6 p.m. Jan. 31 at Starkey Environmental
Education Center, Starkey Wilderness Preserve, New Port Richey
6 p.m. Feb. 5 at Charles McIntosh Civic
Center/American Legion Hall, Dade City
[Last modified December 31, 2007, 20:07:29]