Discussions on opening up Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County’s Meadow Pointe community and linking it to Kinnan Street in New Tampa’s K Bar Ranch hit dead-end after dead-end for years.
Pasco County and the City of Tampa sparred over how to divvy up road improvements and pay the costs.
So, the two roadways that cut through expensive subdivisions on either side of the county line still don’t connect. Instead, they end at a barricade that has become a magnet for illegal dumping.
In a recent medical emergency, one K Bar Ranch resident learned just how unsafe the divide could get. Confusion over which agency should respond and the lack of road access left him waiting 45 minutes for medical attention.
There is renewed hope, however, that opposing sides can find common ground.
“It’s like the stars are in alignment,” said Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione.
Just as she was nearly ready to hit send on an email to Pasco County commissioners, she got a call from Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.
Both wanted to restart discussions on connecting the roads.
“He didn’t know I was even sending the letter,” Montelione said.
And, the developer of Meadow Pointe had scheduled a meeting with Pasco officials to discuss the same topic.
On March 9, Moore, Montelione, Pasco staff members and Tampa staff members will meet to consider options.
Moore reported to fellow commissioners last month of his conversation with Montelione.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey quickly offered her support.
“I’m all about connectivity,” she said.
Lack of connections kept K Bar Ranch resident, Otto Schloeter, in agony for 45 minutes after a neighbor made a 911 call for him.
Schloeter suffered third degree burns on his arm due to an accident while cooking lunch. Outmoded 911 technology contributed to confusion regarding which rescue unit from which county should respond, but Montelione’s letter cited another culprit as well – the barrier between Mansfield and Kinnan.
It took nearly two hours for Schloeter finally to reach Tampa General Hospital for a severe injury that required skin grafts, according to Montelione’s letter.
“What I’m hoping to get from this is a road map to move forward,” said Montelione. “It’s not about everybody getting everything they want. It’s about getting to some mutual benefit agreement.”
Nearly three years ago, efforts to address the issue fell apart when the City of Tampa rejected Pasco’s request for city taxpayers or the developer to fund traffic calming devices on Mansfield, which is in Hillsborough County.
At the time, Pasco officials were hearing from Meadow Pointe residents who were concerned about increased traffic on Mansfield, if the roads were opened.
Mansfield is located off State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel, just beyond The Shops at Wiregrass.
The boulevard winds past Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, several subdivisions within Meadow Pointe, the construction site for the county’s elementary school “W,” and Dr. John Long Middle School before dead-ending at Kinnan and K Bar Ranch.
Tampa and Pasco officials also tried unsuccessfully to negotiate other grid improvements to improve circulation via Beardsley Drive and Meadow Pointe Boulevard.
Some contentious issues could be smoothed over by a 2015 agreement between the City of Tampa and MI/Homes, the current homebuilder for K Bar Ranch.
The company is open to paying for turn lanes, traffic signals, sidewalks and striping of lanes on Mansfield and Kinnan.
Traffic calming devices on Mansfield, however, are still at issue.
But, Moore said he is hopeful about an agreement.
Opening access for residents to move back and forth between counties is going to be vital, as both counties proceed with new development and expanding populations, he said.
“We want to think responsibly. You’re going to need these connections,” Moore said.
Published February 24, 2016