Posted on March 1, 2023
Allen Rose said he is happy Pasco County is moving forward on the long-discussed project to dredge coastal canals.
“Our coastline is in serious need of help,” Rose, of New Port Richey, told Pasco County commissioners Feb. 21.
He said he also wanted to see the county aggressively look for grants to pay for the $14.2 million in dredging projects it has identified stretching from Aripeka to Bailey’s Bluff.
“We have to approach it properly with a plan in place,” he said adding that funds can come from many places.
Commissioners picked one place Feb. 21 to get some of the money needed — the coastal residents who receive the most benefit from deeper and wider canals and channels for their boats.
The commission voted 4-0 approving an ordinance to create a special assessment to finance dredging projects affecting nearly 6,100 property owners. County staff said the assessment method would be specific to the individual neighborhood benefited. The total projects account for more than a half-million linear feet of coastal property.
Commission chairperson Jack Mariano abstained from the vote on the assessment based on his ownership of investment land near Hudson Beach.
Commissioner Ron Oakley said the county has been talking about the issue for a long time but “the only way we’re going to get this started is to approve this.”
While he said he knew it would cost residents, “it is one of those things that is actually going to change the value of your home,” Oakley said.
At a public hearing, some residents said they were anxious to see the projects move forward especially after years of discussing and studying the needs. Others said they were agreeable to paying a reasonable assessment but some said they wanted to see other potential sources tapped to pay the bill.
Melissa Horn said she wanted businesses that use the Hudson channel to pay their share. She said having residential property owners foot the entire bill wouldn’t be right especially as all the other costs of waterfront home living, such as homeowners and flood insurance policies, are rising.
“You’re killing the dream of living on the water and pushing (residents) out,” she said.
The county should also include the residential canals in the city of Port Richey, said David Mueller who has waterfront property there. “These canals have not been maintained for 60 years,” he said.
Justin Grant, Pasco public infrastructure director, said that the county is looking to possibly use $1.4 million from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement money as well as $5 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. That would offset the overall cost of the projects to residents, he said.
Grant said final decisions about assessment amounts wouldn’t happen until later this year as several of the top priority dredge projects move forward. The county hopes to award the design and contract for the initial projects at Gulf Harbors and Hudson in the coming months.