It won’t be long before Zephyrhills gets full control of Gall Boulevard, a road that has served as the primary artery through the city for decades.
But the transformation of the road from a highway to a main street has its challenges. Which is why city officials have scheduled a group of four community workshops, the first one coming up Nov. 14.
“The city kind of feels that we’re standing at the crossroads over an upcoming future transformation of our urban core,” said Zephyrhills planning director Todd Vande Berg. “There are a lot of things going on and have been going on, and we want to update everyone on that, and get their input as well.”
The overall project has been called “(Re)Imagine Gall Boulevard,” and will focus on the road between North Avenue and South Avenue. As through traffic shifts to the one-way pairs, which opened in the 1990s on Sixth and Seventh streets, the plan is to turn Gall Boulevard into a destination where residents and visitors can live, work and play.
How to approach that will be up to the community, Vande Berg said. City officials already plan to work on sidewalks, signage, landscaping, and an overall style plan for businesses. But what happens beyond that is going to require a lot of ideas, and then some decisions.
“It’s one piece of the pie, but it’s a pretty big piece,” Vande Berg said. “We are establishing the framework for the future of the whole (U.S.) 301 corridor, not just how it’s going to function, but at the development side of it as well.”
Thursday’s meeting could probably be better described as a charrette. These are intense planning and designing sessions, typically where every idea is put on the table, and bounced off different people for feedback.
City officials have some ideas of their own, and they’ll present those first. But then it will open up to the audience, bringing everyone into the discussion. Even more, the city is setting up electronic polling technology that will allow everyone to see real-time what the crowd thinks of ideas, which could fast-track popular plans, and set aside ones that may not have a lot of support.
The city recently expanded its Community Redevelopment Area to encompass the Gall Boulevard stretch. This move not only will allow the city to keep tax revenue collected in that specific area, but it also allows officials to set up development standards that can help define a community.
The City Council will be called upon to make final decisions on the project at some point after the community workshops, but there might be some challenges in making the transition along the way.
Primarily, some businesses like fast food restaurants on Gall Boulevard are designed as stops for through traffic more than community pedestrian traffic. If the primary through traffic shifts more to the one-way pairs, there is a chance some could turn around and face the other way — putting their back to Zephyrhills’ new main street.
“We are a little unique here where some of the fast food and other businesses control frontage on both streets,” Vande Berg said. It will be up to officials to encourage alternatives for those businesses, however, maybe even finding a way to serve both streets.
And that’s where workshops like Thursday’s will help in the city’s efforts to expand its main street beyond Fifth Avenue.
“We want to make 301 more multi-modal and more pedestrian friendly, but after that, it’s up to our residents,” Vande Berg said. “This is a great way for us to get a feel from the city, to get their input, and help us make this a success.”
If you go
WHAT: (Re)Imagine Gall Boulevard community workshop
WHEN: Nov. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Alice Hall Community Center, 38116 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills
DETAILS: Call Todd Vande Berg, (813) 780-0006, or email him at
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