Meadow Pointe II resident Chris Dillinger has been anxiously awaiting the results of a Wesley Chapel Roadway Connections study, which is expected to issue its findings on three potential connection points between Pasco and Hillsborough County on the county line separating them.
That report could be published as soon as today.
The one connection Dillinger fears the most is the one everyone is talking about — from Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe to Kinnan St. in New Tampa’s K-Bar Ranch
Dillinger thinks he has a good basis for that fear, and he wants to know who else agrees with him. To that end, he has started an online petition Change.org in an effort, however unscientific as online polls can be, to find out.
“I really wanted to wait for the Roadways Connections study to come out (it is scheduled to be published online May 15), so I could include their data,” he says. “Basically, we’re running out of time.”
As of May 11, 361 people had signed it — you can find it by clicking here — with many sharing the same concerns that have been debated for the past few years — dangers of increased traffic in school zones, the frustration of more cars on already clogged Meadow Pointe roads and fears that Mansfield’s two lanes are just not equipped to handle more than it already does.
For Dillinger, a 39-year-old high school counselor at Sunlake High in Land O’Lakes, it’s also a personal matter. He has two young children who spend their days on Mansfield Blvd. — one attends daycare, the other attends Wiregrass Elementary.
He would rather see a connection made three miles east of Mansfield at Meadow Pointe Dr., a road that doesn’t have any schools on it. Mansfield Blvd. runs by Dr. John Long Middle School, Wiregrass Elementary and Wiregrass Ranch High.
However, there is currently no road in K-Bar Ranch to even connect to Meadow Pointe Blvd.
“I just want to raise awareness of this issue,” he says.
On the other side of traffic barriers that stand between the connection is another Change.org petition, one which is in favor of the connection.
That petition, started by New Tampa realtor Gary Vermani two months ago, had 500 signatures after the first few days, and now is closing in on 800. To find it, click here.
Like Dillinger, Vermani has his reasons for wanting the connection made — to create another pathway for emergency service vehicles or in case of evacuations, to provide easier access to local businesses and to help reduce commute times as well as traffic on both Cross Creek Blvd. and Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
(Not to be outdone, and maybe for comic relief, there is actually a third online petition concerning Kinnan-Mansfield, which has 28 signatures of people who oppose those who oppose the connection. (“There is a group petitioning to stop the road from being completed between Kinnan and Mansfield,” the petition says. “They are stupid. Stupidity should be stopped, not roads.”)
But, it’s no joke to Dillinger, who says the proposed expansion of K-Bar Ranch, which sits along the Pasco-Hillsborough border right off Kinnan St., should be enough of a reason for all Meadow Pointe residents to oppose any connection.
The Tampa City Council held a second hearing May 3 on a proposal to build 700 more homes in K-Bar Ranch, and decided to postpone any decision until June 28 in the hopes that Pasco County can be persuaded to make three connections — one at Meadow Pointe Blvd. and K-Bar Branch Pkwy., one at Wyndfields Blvd. and K-Bar Ranch Pkwy., and a third one at Kinnan-Mansfield.
Dillinger has no problem with the first two connections, which he says would be made into less populated areas along the county line.
However, with three schools, a popular mall on S.R. 56, and plans for things like the Raymond James Financial Complex, a movie theater, sports complex, green grocer and other businesses and restaurants, Dillinger sees a Kinnan-Mansfield connection as disastrous.
“That’s a lot of cars driving through our neighborhood,” he says. “It has to stop.”
While online petitions are unlikely to sway any politician’s opinions — they will likely rely more on public meetings and more official government-run surveys to gauge the public mood — Dillinger has had success with them in the past.
Earlier this year, his online petition to stop the county from considering allowing a 7-Eleven to be built on Mansfield Blvd. and County Line Rd. — right in front of his son’s daycare — attracted more than 1,100 signatures. He also got the support of Pasco County District 2 Commissioner Mike Moore.
The county’s Development Review Committee elected to postpone a decision until a later, and as yet, unscheduled date.
He says he is hoping for similar success this time around.