Give a community a piece of chalk and chalkboard, and wait — people will write what’s on their minds.
That’s the idea behind the Neighborhood Notebook, a chalkboard that’s intended to invite those passing by to share their ideas about how they want their community to grow.
The chalkboard is being placed at various locations in central Pasco County to seek community input.
At the moment, the focus area is the Gateway Crossing Market Area bordered by State Road 56 and State Road 54, Suncoast Parkway, U.S. 41 and Interstate 75. That includes the communities of Trinity, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Lutz and Wesley Chapel.
County officials are hoping to spark a dialogue about the area’s future growth.
What do residents want? Do they want more trails? Safer streets? Better bus service? More restaurants?
Residents were introduced to the Neighborhood Notebook at The Shops at Wiregrass, from July 11 to July 17.
On opposite panels of a hinged chalkboard, two unfinished sentences invite “fill-in-the-blank” moments.
Pasco County employees built the notebook and set it up outside the customer service station at Wiregrass.
The unfinished sentences are: ‘I would like to see’ and ‘I can make it happen.’
“It’s a new, different kind of thing designed to get attention,” said Kris Hughes, the county’s planning and development administrator.
County officials are giving residents opportunities to express ideas about future planning issues in central Pasco County, including land use, design and transit.
Officials got some of those ideas, and, on occasion, naughty graffiti.
That wasn’t unexpected with a display open to the public, said Hughes.
“We all have to deal with what would be juvenile behavior as it arises. We don’t let it stay up there,” Hughes said.
At future notebook exhibits, Hughes said the county might provide maps so that residents can better understand the area being studied.
As of July 17, residents had left ideas that covered a range of topics.
One person wanted to see people “not being idiots.” Another wanted to see someone’s Mom smile. Others advocated for legalizing marijuana, veganism or wanted “no capitalism.”
Expressions of love, punctuated with heart symbols, were plentiful.
One person offered this sweet thought – “Just reminber (reminber scratched out) you’re beautiful.”
The message was accompanied by this admission: “I can’t spell.”
Land O’ Lakes resident Sean Serrano paused to read messages on the notebook.
“It’s like a little glimpse into the community around here,” he said.
One goal with the outdoor notebook is to encourage residents to visit the county’s website to learn more about the “Walk Bike Work Play” initiative.
There’s a virtual notebook, too, so residents can expand on and continue sharing their ideas.
In collaboration with the planning department, the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Vision 54/56 Project also is supporting the initiative.
The MPO is working with a volunteer task force to recommend improvements to transportation and safety along State Road 54 and State Road 56.
No date has been set yet for the Neighborhood Notebook’s next appearance.
But, Hughes said two possible locations are Tampa Premium Outlets, at I-75 and State Road 56, or the Northpointe Village Shopping Center, at State Road 54 and Suncoast Parkway.
For information on the initiative and calendar events, visit WalkBikeWorkPlay.com.
Published July 26, 2017