Efforts are continuing on several projects being spearheaded by the Zephyrhills Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
Gail Hamilton, the director of the CRA, served up several updates on projects during a monthly November meeting at Zephyrhills City Hall.
For instance, CRA staffers are continuing to work with firms Furr, Wegman & Banks P.A., and BGE Inc., on the design of the “Little But Loud” downtown entertainment backyard hub, Hamilton said.
Staffers also are soliciting help from Main Street Zephyrhills Inc.’s design committee to review various proposals and criteria, she said.
The venue — to be developed on a 150-foot by 60-foot city-owned vacant lot at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street — is expected to feature food trucks, vendor carts, games, live music, public art installations and various seating areas.
A more specific concept plan, with pictures, is expected to be presented at the Dec. 27 meeting.
That will give the board an opportunity to “see what we’ve been working on,” Hamilton said.
The venue site was once home to a Disabled American Veterans chapter building, and is situated just a block north of Fifth Avenue and adjacent to City Hall.
Hamilton also updated the board on work being done for the Hercules Park redevelopment project.
She said survey crews are expected to wrap up their duties for the park redevelopment project by Dec. 20, paving way for the design process to begin in early 2022.
The 12-acre park property is located at the corner of County Road 54 and Gall Boulevard. It’s expected to feature a multi-purpose trail, playfield, nature playground and picnic area, among other elements.
Also, the CRA director mentioned security cameras will be installed in Clock Plaza along Fifth Avenue, before the end of this year.
Clock Plaza — situated two blocks east of U.S. 301 in the city’s historic downtown district — is patterned after an old-fashioned town square that features a gazebo-style bandstand, a decorative clock, landscaping, and downtown parking.
This half-acre park features picnic tables nestled underneath shady oak trees.
The bandstand is used throughout the year for live entertainment during Main Street events, parades, and other social activities.
That location is expected to be just the first of several where cameras will be installed.
“We’ve been working with the police department to identify locations they’d like to have cameras,” Hamilton said. “The feed will go directly to the police department so they can see it in real-time.”
Hamilton also carved out time to praise Main Street Zephyrhills Director Faith Wilson and a new Main Street Board of Directors for helping facilitate downtown events, including Halloween Howl and the Festival of Lights Christmas Parade.
Wilson — hired in June — replaced Paxton McCullough, who held the role from June 2020 to May 2021. Before that, the Main Street leadership role was held by Anna Stutzriem, who resigned in March 2020 after more than two years on the post.
“They have worked incredibly hard,” Hamilton said of the Main Street staff and volunteers. “Last year, because of COVID, we had no events. We have a board that’s never done any events; they’re all new and have never done anything…but the Main Street board members and their committee members have really worked hard, gotten together, have figured out what needs to be done…”
The Oct. 30 Halloween Howl reported strong attendance. It also had 60 vendors, four sponsors and several new attractions, including sold-out historical ghost tours.
The Dec. 4 Festival of Lights reported eight sponsors, as well as four food vendors and eight concession vendors.
The event featured four co-grand marshals, which were standout teachers from the Zephyrhills area — Dustin Rowe (Zephyrhills High School), Michelle Elie (West Zephyrhills Elementary), Brian McKinnnies (Raymond B. Stewart Middle School) and Jaime Barrentine (Chester Taylor Elementary). A fifth educator also was recognized — Michelle Deloret (Woodland Elementary School) — but couldn’t attend the event.
Entertainment and music was provided by local community organizations, including Helen’s Baton and Dance Studio, the Zephyrhills Community Choir, and the First United Methodist Church Choir.
In other action, the CRA Board unanimously approved a $1,000 matching sign grant for Bulldog Performance Speed Shop, owned by Jeremiah Swindell, at 5047 Gall Blvd.
The business sells an assortment of after-market automotive parts and accessories, and features a full-service machine shop.
Offerings include diesel performance, lift kits, nitrous, rotating assemblies, crate engines and race fuel.
The total cost of Bulldog Performance’s new signage was $2,238.90.
The sign improvements fall under the CRA’s matching façade rehabilitation program, which aims to encourage rehabilitation and preservation of commercial buildings by offering a financial incentive of matching funds and limited technical assistance.
The general idea is to encourage an aesthetically pleasing business district, while eliminating blighting influences.
Published December 15, 2021