The Hillsborough League of Women Voters may get a new unit to cover New Tampa and East Pasco County listen11/23/11 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:
Residents in East Pasco county and New Tampa have to drive a long way to be a part of meetings for the League of Women Voters. That’s why the Hillsborough chapter is trying to start up a unit to cover the two areas who share many roads, but not the same county.
Parts of Pasco county back right into parts of Hillsborough, but the two counties rarely collaborate on issues that affect them both. Hillsborough League of Women Voters president Mickey Castor said not only will a new chapter servicing New Tampa and East Pasco make a commute easier for those residents, it will also help bring the counties together for important discussions.
“We’ll be addressing issues that the two counties share and that the so-called border area needs to negotiate. And so, we are inviting folks who are interested and figure it is way too far to go down to downtown Tampa, that they can join this unit up here that covers New Tampa and eastern Pasco.”
The inaugural meeting hosted two county commissioners, one from each county. Commissioner Victor Crist represented Hillsborough. He said the two counties have not done enough to work with one another, but hopes meeting in small settings like this will help change that.
“I think you saw the beginning of something new. You saw two elected officials from two different counties representing people who have common interests because of where live and work and enjoy their life. For me, I represent north Hillsborough County, she represents south Pasco. It’s hard to tell where our borders begin and end. Whether you’re in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel, when you’re driving down Bruce B. Downs, you don’t know where one stops and the other begins. And it’s important that we start thinking, how do we work together?”
Commissioner Pat Mulieri’s district covers East Pasco. She said the counties have worked together before on projects like high-speed rail. Transportation, she added, is an important aspect of growth for Pasco county and road improvements are already full speed ahead.
“We’re moving people around with 56 to Meadow Pointe Blvd. now, hopefully it would go further, but it’s in development roads so they in turn would have to build it. Supposedly [State Road 54] construction is supposed to be finished in about a month or so. I wish we’d get the barrels off of 581, but we are planning roads and one of the reasons that Raymond James came and even T. Rowe Price over in the Land O’ Lakes area said is because we do have roads to move people.”
But improvements to roadways within the region are not the only way to move residents. The group discussed ideas for programs like rail and Bus Rapid Transit. That topic made Tampa 912 project member Kim Irvine raise an eyebrow. She told commissioners the bus route that passes her home in Pasco County has very little ridership.
“The government is there to protect our rights given to us by God and it is the citizens job to take care a lot of the issues that these boards are doing at this point. So, our government has overreached, it’s overstepped the Constitution. No Tax For Tracks was fought and won because the citizens did not want that in Hillsborough County and they didn’t want it. It costs too much and does too little. Not that we wouldn’t be opposed to other forms of mass transit such as busses if there’s truly a need found for that, but we don’t want to subsidize things that are not being ridden.”
Irvine was one of only two residents to attend the forum. The other was also part of the Tampa 912 project that advocates for limited government. Despite the turnout, organizers said they plan to move forward with creating a new unit in East Pasco County.