The 2017-2018 state appropriation requests from Hernando County consist of eight projects totaling $10,203,718. The largest request is $4.6 million for the development of a recreational complex at Anderson Snow Park that includes a splash park. The following is a summary of the requests by the county.
• A $1,922,960 request would fund a public works project aiming to improve water quality at Pine Island/ Alfred McKethan Park. The project, which was first proposed in 1997, would eliminate septic tanks in the surrounding area in order to reduce fecal coliform counts. Sewer would be provided to 90 parcels.
• A $1,650,758 request would provide the funding for a roadway to replace the flood prone Cyril Drive which is currently the only access road for River Heights Estates located along the western bank of the Withlacoochee River. A landowner granted a 50’ right of way for a permanent roadway.
• An 850,000 request would fund improvements to Linda Pederson and Jenkins Creek Coastal Parks to improve fishing and reduce shoreline erosion. The county is currently creating a coastal paddling trail that loops between Jenkins Creek/Linda Pederson and Bayport Park at the mouth of the Weeki Wachee River. Some of the funding would go towards installing a canoe and kayak launch area that would be integrated into the paddling trail. Other improvements as described by the county include: replacing and raising of the existing seawall and boardwalk adjacent to the swimming area, replacing the wooden cross-over bridge connecting the fishing pier to the wade fishing area, restoring areas of shoreline erosion through the creation of living shorelines, enhancing fish habitat within the fishing canals, improving the parking area along the fishing canals and restoring hydrologic connectivity between the canals and adjacent salt marsh, creating a marsh grass nursery as a plant source for regional living shoreline projects.
• A $275,000 request would fund a Public Works Project to clean-up Hunter’s Lake and hydraulically dredge a canal from the boat launch area to the lake in order to provide public access to the lake. The county states, “The entire 1,632 feet of canal is proposed to be dredged to a width of 20 feet at elevation 11.5’. A total of 3,081 cubic yards of material is proposed for removal.” This is part of a larger project to bring back fishing to Hunter’s Lake which includes 14 acres of tussock removal funded by the county and 5 acres of tussock removal funded by FWC. The partnership with FWC is contingent on reopening public access to Hunters Lake.
• A $180,000 request would fund a detailed plan for the Kass Circle redevelopment in Spring Hill. County documentation explains, “In March 2016 the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners created the Kass Circle Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) pursuant to Chapter 163.356, Florida Statutes. Funding is needed to expand the vision concept into a detailed redevelopment plan that includes projects, events, programs, funding mechanisms and priorities. The adoption of a redevelopment plan will allow establishment of a tax increment financing (TIF) trust fund for implementation of CRA priority projects. Legislative-appropriated funds will be used for a community coordination process and development of the plan including a list of priority capital projects.”
• A $650,000 request would fund the addition and maintenance of a multi-purpose artificial turf field at Anderson Snow Park. County documentation explains, “The artificial turf will provide for high traffic and low maintenance. Furthermore, the field will provide for the flexibility to alternate between a regulation soccer field and football field, and several junior soccer fields and regulation flag football fields.” An amount of $500,000 would go towards capital outlay, while $150,000 would go towards operation costs.
• A $4.6 million request would fund the development of a recreational complex that would host 2 indoor basketball courts, office and meeting space, a Splash Park, and a four field softball quad plex. The county believes this would bring more opportunity to host major sporting competitions. Currently Anderson Snow Park has six full soccer fields, five baseball fields, three softball fields and hosts Spring Hill Dixie Baseball, First Hernando Youth Soccer, and Hernando County Men’s Softball League.
• A $75,000 request would fund enhanced laboratory surveillance for mosquito born illnesses such as Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and West Nile Virus. Currently, mosquitoes must be shipped to a lab for testing and this only occurs during a known outbreak. County documentation explains, “Funding would be utilized to purchase equipment and consumables necessary to carry out Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction to detect these viruses in mosquito samples collected throughout Hernando County.” It is often 3 weeks after a sentinel chicken is exposed to the West Nile virus, when the county is alerted that it has tested positive. The county further states, “With in-house testing capabilities, populations would be monitored weekly for all viruses that have previously been found in the County, thereby conferring immediate action to the threat of an outbreak if a positive pool of mosquitoes is found. This work would also allow the department to better understand hosts and vectors involved in transmission of these viruses as any of the samples could also be forwarded to Universities for further DNA analysis, as the initial phase of this process would have already been completed by the Hernando County Mosquito Control Department.”