Voter approval of four general obligation bond issues in November has set the stage for a major building program in Pasco County.
The bond revenues will go to expand the Pasco County Detention Center; to update and expand fire rescue facilities; to upgrade libraries; and, to spruce up and improve park and recreational facilities.
Pasco County staff members briefed commissioners on the timing for various projects that will be done, and commissioners offered some suggestions during the meeting.
In a typical year, the county is involved in about $21 million in projects, according to Andrew Baxter, the county’s facilities management director. The workload over the next few years will average about $45.5 million, he said.
The biggest single project, under the approved general obligation bonds, involves the expansion of the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center, at 20101 Central Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.
That bond issue is for $128 million, and it will be used to pay for a 1,000-bed addition and an upgrade to all of the jail’s central services, including medical, intake, the kitchen and support services.
The design is expected to be done during fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The construction will begin in 2021, with completion in fiscal year 2023.
As the county gets ready for that project, Commissioner Jack Mariano suggested county staff visit Charlotte County to see how they’ve handled medical services at the jail.
“They may have a better way, and a better result at the end. The successes that they say they’re having is probably worthy for us taking a look at.” Mariano said.
Commissioner Mike Wells also said the services that are provided need to address mental illness and addition.
“If we can help these folks, it’s not a revolving door,” Wells said. “ The numbers should go down.”
The county also will be making significant improvements regarding its fire and rescue services.
Projects in the Central Pasco and East Pasco areas will be:
- Adding Station 42, at Suncoast Parkway and State Road 52. The $6.1 million project involves the construction of a new one-story, four-bay station. Construction is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2021.
- Replacing Station 22, in Land O’ Lakes. The $6.9 million project calls for replacing the existing one-story, four-bay station near the detention center in Land O’ Lakes. Construction is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2022.
- Adding Station 44, at State Road 54 and Meadow Pointe Boulevard. The $6.5 million project calls for a new one-story, four-bay station. It is expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2023.
- Adding Station 45, in Bexley, a subdivision off State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes. This $7.3 million project calls for a new one-story, four-bay station. It is expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2023.
- Adding a Rescue Training Center in Land O’ Lakes. This $5.8 million project is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2023.
The county received $20.2 million in bond funding for parks and recreation projects.
Projects in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area include:
- San Antonio Maintenance Building, $100,000, to be completed in fiscal year 2020
- Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, pool pump room, $10,000, to be completed in fiscal year 2021
- Wesley Chapel District Park, replace air conditioning, $53,000, to be completed in fiscal year 2020
- Heritage Community Center, roof, $45,320, to be completed in fiscal year 2020.
Across the county, there are some fairly pricey concession stand building projects, which drew the attention of Commissioner Mike Moore.
He urged county staff to see if there are ways to trim those costs.
“Any savings allows you to do more. Maybe you need another concession at another park,” Moore said.
Wells also suggested looking at the possibility of using the same design firm for projects, to potentially lower costs.
“I’m just trying to save everybody time and money,” Wells said.
Libraries will be modernized, using revenues from general obligation bonds. Planned projects in East and Central Pasco are:
- New River Branch Library, 34043 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel: Nearly $2 million in improvements. The project is in the design phase and is expected to be completed in 2020.
- Hugh Embry Branch Library, 14215 Fourth St., in Dade City: Nearly $1.8 million in improvements are planned. Completion is expected in 2021.
- Land O’ Lakes Branch Library, 2818 Collier Parkway, Land O’ Lakes: Approximately $1.7 million in improvements are planned. The county is working with Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley to be sure there is no conflict with election needs, said County Administrator Dan Biles. This project is expected to be completed in 2021.
Biles said the plan is to close the libraries during the renovation, with outreach efforts to serve patrons.
“If we close the libraries, we can give the contractor the entire footprint, so construction can be faster and less expensively than if we try to phase it through those facilities. It gets us in, gets the construction done and out of there.”
The county is anticipating the bonds to be issued in April.
“In order to accomplish these projects, we’re probably going to need some surge staffing, just to manage these projects, and ensure the quality we expect is achieved,” Baxter said. “We’re basically doubling our workload for the next few years.”
Additional discussion is expected at a later board meeting over those staffing needs and how to pay for them.
Published March 13, 2019