Over the decades, the cultural and geographic differences between the New Port Richey and Port Richey area on the west side, and the Zephyrhills and Dade City area on the east side have brought up the question of splitting Pasco County more than once.
But could the real solution be to just move the county government to Land O’ Lakes?
That’s exactly what private planning developer CGL is expected to tell Pasco County commissioners during a workshop Oct. 14 as part of a proposed 15-year expansion plan that will nearly double the amount of office space for the government, move much of that space to south central Pasco, and cost upward of $583 million.
In presentation materials sent to commissioners ahead of Tuesday’s workshop, CGL said the county government would have to increase its office footprint from 1.5 million square feet now, to more than 2.8 million square feet by 2034. The sheriff’s office would get the biggest benefit from that expansion, growing from more than 450,000 square feet now, to 1.1 million square feet in the next two decades.
Also needing more than twice the amount of existing space is judiciary offices from an existing 49,000 square feet to 117,000 square feet in 2034. Administrative offices for the courts would need to grow from 15,000 to 31,000 square feet, while public safety would expand to 364,000 square feet, and utilities to 68,700 square feet.
The administration offices for the county commission would need to grow only 29 percent to 28,000 square feet, CGL said, while storage space would actually drop 5 percent to a little more than 30,000 square feet.
The county also would have to consider upgrading or even replacing about 25 percent of its existing buildings, which CGL rated poor or very poor. That accounted for more than 210,000 square feet — or 11 percent — of existing space.
A lot of the new construction, however, would need to move from the edges of the county, and more in the center, CGL planners said. That could include at huge chunks of land around the Land O’ Lakes jail on U.S. 41, as well as about 30 acres of land in the Lutz area of the county along State Road 54 between Interstate 75 and the Suncoast Parkway.
If that didn’t work, CGL also suggested sites north not far from U.S. 41, through Land O’ Lakes, and even near State Road 52.
Field operations — like public works, fleet management, utilities and public transportation — would completely move out of the New Port Richey area, and instead find bases in central Pasco, the Dade City area, and the Shady Hills area.
CGL is recommending the county demolish 174,000 square feet of buildings, and selling 13 others — including the Hap Clark Building in Land O’ Lakes — that could generate about $7.4 million based on current value.
The highest priority structures in the first phase also are the most expensive. CGL is telling county officials they need to build a 1,000-bed detention center and a 12-courtroom criminal courthouse in Land O’ Lakes, that would cost between $206.2 million and $227 million.
Other plans in the first five years include eight fire stations, the first phase of a new centralized location for up to $26 million, and a $3.6 million renovation of the Hap Clark Building on Land O’ Lakes Boulevard.
The second phase — beginning in the sixth year — lists the sheriff’s office administration building as well as two sheriff substations and forensics as the top priorities, costing up to $34.3 million. Eight more fire stations would be included, costing up to $16.5 million, while the detention center would receive a $41 million expansion to add 500 beds.
Lower priorities would include new libraries in Dade City, Wesley Chapel, and the east central portion of the county, for $12.7 million.
The final phase, in the last five years of the overall plan, would put the sheriff’s office at the top of the list again with a new Land O’ Lakes campus and vehicle maintenance facility for $19.3 million. It would include yet another 500-bed expansion at the jail, and the possible construction of a new District 4 substation for the sheriff.
How the county would fund all of that is a different question, but a lot of it is needed, CGL said. With Pasco’s population expected to grow 77 percent to more than 842,000 people in the next 25 years — and southern Pasco replacing the west side of the county as the most populous — county government will need to be ready.
The annual average cost to the county would be between $30 million and $39 million per year, according to CGL estimates. That is a little more than 3 percent of the county’s current annual budget of $1.2 billion.
The county commission is set to hear CGL’s presentation during a workshop Oct. 14 at 10 a.m., at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse, 37918 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.