The Pasco County Planning and Development Department would like feedback regarding what residents want to see develop in the community.
They’ve taken a novel approach.
The county’s first ‘Neighborhood Notebook’ debuted at the Shops at Wiregrass, located at 28211 Paseo Drive in Wesley Chapel, on June 30, eliciting ideas from passers-by.
Members of the Pasco County Long Rangers built what amounts to an enormous chalkboard where residents can share their ideas with county officials.
One side of the board that was left blank asked what residents would like to see, and the other side of the board asked how they can make it happen. Buckets of chalk attached to the boards allow residents to fill in the blanks.
County officials came by several times a week to photograph the board, take notes in a log and clear it off for new suggestions. The board was initially supposed to leave The Shops at Wiregrass on July 17, but officials extended it until July 20 while they took additional comments and looked for a suitable location in the North Pointe area, near S.R. 54 and the Suncoast Pkwy.
The Neighborhood Notebook is part of the county’s Gateway Crossings Market Area Plan, otherwise known as the South Market Area that covers all of Wesley Chapel and much of southern Pasco County, from U.S. 301 all the way to Little Rd. in the Trinity area. The area also covers the north-south corridors of I-75 and the Suncoast Pkwy.
“We’re here, to hear you,” Pasco’s director of planning & development Kris Hughes said. “We want public engagement from multi-media sources in high-traffic parts of the South Market areas.”
Hughes and his staff come from a diverse background and drew on their experiences to dream up the Neighborhood Notebook.
“The physical board was taken from a staffer’s experience in Mississippi,” Hughes said. “We bring a lot of experience to the project and borrow from the experience we’ve all had.”
If you missed the physical message board when it was at the mall, residents can visit WalkBikePlay.com/copy-of-virtual-notebook. Hughes said the online notebook also is getting lots of comments, as is the physical notebook. Residents are encouraged to connect with the “Walk. Bike. Work. Play” initiative via social media.
“We’re getting good suggestions and we’re working with them,” Hughes said. “Information from the Notebook is used to inform the preparation of the market area plan. The Notebook comments will help us focus on specific areas of interest or concern.”
While the online notebook hasn’t done quite as well as the physical board at the Shops at Wiregrass, the comments online have tended to be longer and more descriptive.
Early comments on the physical Notebook at Wiregrass included better public transportation options, more recycling programs and more nature trails.
One resident who advocated for transit options noted that residents could help by voting for transit-friendly candidates and referendums. Another advocating for clean streets said that people could help “Make it Happen” by cleaning up their own street and sidewalk.
Naturally, a chalkboard in the middle of a mall inviting comments is going to have some strange requests. Under things people would like to see, some chalk-toting shoppers included world peace, a million dollars, Justin Bieber, a real live red fox and a dog president.
All suggestions feed into the County’s Comprehensive Plan and associated goals, objectives and policies that will guide Pasco’s future growth.
The Neighborhood Notebook was originally planned to move to the Tampa Premium Outlets near S.R. 56 and I-75, but concerns about teenage vandalism, and governmental red tape, has been holding up that move..
Instead, Hughes said that the physical portion of the project may evolve into postage-paid comment cards.