Dade City projects progressing, others delayed

As coronavirus disease-2019  (COVID-19) affects how municipalities and government entities operate, the City of Dade City is striving to keep day-to-day duties relatively intact, while following various safety procedures and precautions.

Not unlike its municipal neighbor Zephyrhills, which is 9 miles down the road, Dade City has gone about minimizing the number of personnel at City Hall or out in the field — incorporating rotating shift schedules and allowing others to work remotely. The city, for example, is limiting the number of staffers inside City Hall to no more than six to 10 at a particular time, Dade City Manager Leslie Porter told The Laker/Lutz News.

Dade City Manager Leslie Porter (File)

Porter acknowledged the pandemic has presented some logistical challenges, but added “the majority of us have been able to be fully functional, whether we’re remote or in the office.”

She continued: “We’ve been doing our best to keep business moving forward.”

So, while municipal offices on Meridian Avenue are emptier than usual, several projects and initiatives are progressing, albeit with slight delays, Porter said.

For instance, the city recently was able to put two construction projects out to bid:

  • A new concession stand and public restroom building at Moore-Mickens Field, 14318 Canal St. The city has budgeted $150,000 for the project.
  • A visitor’s information center building at the Hardy Trail trailhead, near property that later will be developed into a multi-use splash park/bike hub. The Pasco County Tourist Development Council allocated $250,000 for the information center.

Moreover, the $2.3 million downtown stormwater improvement project is nearly completed and is on track to meet its summer deadline, Porter said.

The scope of the project generally takes underground piping through multiple downtown streets into an existing conveyance system into a reconfigured Irwin Pond, just past U.S. 98 and the CSX railway.

All downtown roadway construction work is done, while “final pieces” of the pond component are underway, Porter said.

There were “a few delays” because of COVID-19, she said.

Other city plans are facing longer postponements, however.

The multimillion dollar Tank Hill wastewater facility improvement project has been put on hold, until on-site pre-bidding meetings can be scheduled, something necessary because it’s a larger-scale project, Porter said.

Also, the splash park/bike hub project is facing indefinite delays. A public draft conceptual presentation was originally scheduled in mid-March, but canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, and has not yet been rescheduled.

A visioning meeting would have allowed residents to provide input and ideas on wanted amenities for the new downtown park, located on a 2.23-acre parcel that borders the Hardy Trail on Church Avenue.

Other updates from the city manager:

  • City Hall remains closed to the public, so utility billing payments are being accepted online, over the phone, or through drop box. The city is absorbing the cost of credit card transaction fees for utility bills.
  • Playgrounds and public restrooms are closed, but city parks and trails remain open with the exception of Naomi Jones Park at 38122 Martin Luther King Blvd., due to challenges associated with users not obeying social distancing protocols.
  • Dade City Commissioners Eunice Penix and Nicole Deese Newlon, who are not seeking re-election, have agreed to remain in their legislative roles up until the rescheduling of the Pasco municipal elections. The elections have been delayed per an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis
  • The Dade City Police Department is temporarily pulling back on some of the in-person, community policing efforts, to minimize face-to-face contact in the wake of COVID-19.
  • The city is releasing a quarterly newsletter on its website and becoming more active on social media, to better engage citizens on various happenings and initiatives.

City to begin virtual meetings
Dade City will start holding virtual city commission meetings by teleconference, the first coming on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. The virtual format will continue “as long as necessary to keep business going and keep everybody safe,” Porter said.

Porter added the city also is prepared to hold other noteworthy meetings virtually — such as planning commission board — should stay-at-home orders extend indefinitely. “We don’t want to hold up progress,” she said.

The city had to cancel multiple in-person commission and planning board meetings in March and April due to COVID-19, and needed additional time to explore how to best go about a virtual meeting setup.

Persons wishing to participate in virtual meetings:

  • Call +1 (517) 317-3122
  • Enter access code 342-617-085(Mute your phone unless you wish to speak during public comments)

Comments about items on the agenda will be solicited and heard during the meeting by telephone or communications media technology.

General public comment (limited to 3 minutes) unrelated to an item on the agenda should be e-mailed no later than 60 minutes before the start of the meeting to . If received in a timely manner, the mayor or city staff will read the public comment at the meeting.

For more information on the setup, call (352) 523-5052, or visit DadeCityFl.com.

Published April 29, 2020

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