During a meeting that largely dealt with the issue of prostitution along US19, Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill was in attendance to appeal to New Port Richey’s City Council for additional cooperative efforts along US19. He made a number of suggestions that both cities can work together on to improve the image of the roadway.
“I’d like to see us improve the appearance of US19 by landscaping the median. We have talked about that for a number of years and there is funding available,” he said, “The City of Port Richey will be more than willing to work with New Port Richey on the corridor landscaping improvements.”
Mr. O’Neill also said that he would like to see New Port Richey start requiring commercial properties along US19 to maintain landscaping and the curb areas in the right-of-way in front of their properties, and would like to see the City take more efforts to demolish dilapidated properties.
“I’d like to consider condemnation of certain properties under your blight ordinance. Get rid of buildings that will be a continual problem. They will be what they are until they are torn down. I cannot understand how anyone would invest in the area until those buildings are torn down,” O’Neill said.
Mr. O’Neill also addressed the issue of prostitution problems in the area, and said he had spoken recently with Councilman Jeff Starkey about US19 about tackling the problem together. “I do want to applaud your City Manager Debbie Manns, and the New Port Richey Police Department’s efforts. I think if we keep after this thing we will make some progress over time… Law enforcement alone is not the answer and we need to do other things as we move forward.”
Lastly, Mr. O’Neill suggested that New Port Richey amend its highway zoning to prohibit outdoor storage on properties. “Coming here tonight I pull out on Luna Vista, I turn on US19 and I see a bunch of painted yellow tires,” he said, “The latest traffic counts I’m aware of amount to more than 8,000 cars a day. I think we need to change this perception from this experience of US19.”
by Jon Tietz