Mayor Camille Hernandez and representatives from the City of Dade City joined in a 2½-mile casual bicycle ride through the city on March 25 to promote bicycling and pedestrian safety. The event was hosted by Bike/Walk Tampa Bay, a regional coalition of professionals, advocates, and residents committed to making walking and bicycling safe. The organization was there to pass out shirts and promote roadway safety. The ride started at The Spoke, the visitor’s center on Church Street, and cyclists traveled on the Hardy Trail and Seventh Avenue. Dozens of riders joined in, as did some members of the Dade City Police Department. To learn how to become an ambassador for Bike/Walk Tampa Bay, log onto www.bikewalktampabay.org.
East Pasco’s rolling hills and curving countryside attract avid bicyclists from far and wide.
And now, these cyclists will have a spot where they can rest, relax and refuel.
The Spoke — designed to offer respite for cyclists and other exercise enthusiasts — also features a visitor’s center.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 15 celebrated the new amenity, at 37800 Church Ave., across from the Roy T. Hardy trailhead.
The Spoke features covered porches, restrooms, and places to refill water bottles and tune up bicycles.
Inside the 1,100-square-foot welcome center, guests can check out information about the county’s other tourism amenities through mobile exhibit space, which includes printed information and videos.
The space also is eventually expected to host a local retail shop and satellite food vendor on weekends and during the evening.
“We have some very special things that we’re working on,” Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez said, during the ribbon-cutting.
From the initial idea to its final build out, the project has been some six years in the making.
Hernandez quipped: “I didn’t think that it was going to take that long to birth a baby, because I feel that this is like a baby to me.”
She went on: “This has been a project that I have cradled and that I have hugged, and that I have worked so closely with the TDC (Pasco County Tourist Development Council) and the BOCC (Pasco County Board of County Commissioners).”
The facility’s moniker represents a combination of the city’s rich railway history and its modern trail movement.
Melanie Romagnoli, Dade City’s community and economic development director, is credited with dreaming up the facility’s name.
The Spoke was funded with a $250,000 grant from the Pasco TDC and its official destination marketing organization, Experience Florida’s Sports Coast, which promotes the county’s varied outdoor and recreational offerings.
The amber-colored visitor center reflects the architectural style of the surrounding Church Avenue neighborhood, which commonly features homes with wood siding, columns and brick embellishments.
“The Spoke is going to be something that brings tourism to Pasco County,” said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who also chairs the county’s TDC. “You know, (Dade City) is a bike hub, it really is. There’s people from all over the world that come to Dade City to ride here, and we want to continue to do what we can do to promote it. …We look forward to more great things to come from this beautiful city.”
Commissioner Ron Oakley, whose district represents East Pasco, underscored the importance of having designated outdoor exercise-friendly recreational features — amid the booming population growth, and increasing traffic.
“More people will need this kind of (amenity) where they can walk and ride their bikes, and make it safe,” Oakley said.
The Spoke represents the first phase of a larger 2.23-acre city park site that’s anticipated to include a splash pad, all-inclusive playground, nature trail, and possibly an amphitheater.
Its completion will otherwise complement the city’s nearby downtown restaurants and shops, while offering another recreational outlet for youth, residents and visitors alike.
“This whole vision, this beautiful piece of land, it’s just a huge asset to Dade City,” Hernandez said.
The city originally purchased the property for the park site in December 2019 from the family of local businessman Otto Weitzenkorn.
Officials have said the park fits with the city’s vision of fostering a healthy and age-friendly community.
The Spoke also represents Pasco County’s first official tourism welcome center.
Published December 22, 2021