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Possible changes to Circle Boulevard upset residents

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Published:   |   Updated: June 11, 2014 at 04:40 PM

City Council members wanted to be straight with residents last week about prospects for Circle Boulevard: No changes in the street around Orange Lake are planned anytime soon.

Residents said they are against closing part of Circle Boulevard and reverting the rest of the street to two-way traffic clockwise.

An architect designing the Sims Park expansion plan raised the possibility of rerouting Circle Boulevard traffic to integrate it better with Orange Lake and move the playground to the north end of the park.

The idea came as a surprise to many people, but council members said an imminent decision on it is unlikely.

“Just to make it perfectly clear, we're not doing a dadgum thing with Circle Boulevard right now,” Councilman Bill Phillips said. “Not a thing. It's not going anywhere.”

Council members approved the broad concept for the Sims Park overhaul, but have made no decisions whether to build any of the improvements or change traffic flow patterns.

The city is conducting traffic studies to determine if Circle Boulevard changes would be even feasible, Mayor Rob Marlowe said.

Dan Dede, who lives on Circle Boulevard, told council his “big concern” is the city might put two-way traffic on Circle Boulevard.

“They tried this several years back and it didn't work,” Dede commented. “There's a considerable amount of foot traffic around Orange Lake every day.”

People park cars in the lot on the northeast corner of Circle Boulevard and Central Avenue and then walk across Circle to get to the lake. Two-way traffic would cause more hazards for pedestrians and the ducks who flock to the lake, Dede said.

The current arrangement is a “beautiful place” that draws visitors from all over the area, another resident, Mark Hamilton, said. “A two-way street there does not make any sense,” he said. “It's too dangerous.”

West Pasco Historical Society President Bob Langford said the society's museum and library at 6431 Circle Blvd. would be “history because nobody will be able to find us again” if Circle Boulevard traffic flow were altered.

Langford also questioned the impact on the downtown business district of closing the portion of Grand Boulevard that runs along the northern end of Sims Park, as has been suggested.

Sally Middleton, who has lived on Circle Boulevard for more than four years urged city officials to not “destroy the mood and the beauty” of the neighborhood.

corth@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1068

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