Commissioner Henry Wilson's preteen children attended a public workshop in 2011 about redeveloping the coastal area of Pasco County.
Nearly two years later, a draft of the redevelopment plan the workshop helped craft is on paper. By the time Christopher and Cailin Wilson are young adults, some of the ideas in the long-range plan might have taken tangible form.
Rebranding is a place to start, planning and development administrator Richard Gehring told county commissioners at a workshop Tuesday where commissioners reviewed the 172-page planning document.
Gehring and other Pasco planners hope for smooth sailing for growth with The Harbors — West Market Area Redevelopment/Infill Plan for the U.S. 19 corridor.
The name conjures the waterfront access of west Pasco, officials said. The plan basically encompasses a section west of Little Road to the coast.
As part of a countywide redevelopment effort, other parts of Pasco have been given distinctive names.
"People drive up and down 19 and never know it's there," Gehring said of the proximity of The Harbors area to the Gulf of Mexico.
The area boasts some 7,000 waterfront lots.
As part of their redevelopment planning, county officials are reaching out to city, school and business leaders.
Among those in the audience Tuesday were Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill, New Port Richey Councilman Bob Langford, West Pasco Chamber of Commerce President Chip Wichmanowski and Richard Tonello, the school district's supervisor of planning.
County Administrator John Gallagher congratulated O'Neill for the city's 2012 razing of a rundown former mobile home park at U.S. 19 and Grand Boulevard. O'Neill said the demolition and land clearing should help the city attract developers.
Port Richey officials are scheduled to discuss a waterfront district draft plan at a meeting March 7.
Gehring, a former Dunedin city manager, can envision west Pasco developing a waterfront tourist destination similar to the John's Pass Village dining and shopping area in southern Pinellas County.
Nearly $1 million in unspent revenue from a U.S. 19 impact fee the county no longer levies could be a down payment on redevelopment, Commissioner Jack Mariano said.
In 2011, the county scrapped the impact fee and replaced it with a mobility fee intended to direct growth toward planned urban service cores and away from undeveloped areas.
Renewal of Penny for Pasco last year also will provide the means to pursue better roads, pedestrian safety upgrades and other projects, Gehring said. For instance, a pedestrian crossing could be built underneath the Pithlachascotee River bridge on U.S. 19, he said.
Stubborn problems remain, Gehring said. Vacant properties still dot many areas. Foreclosures on a series of homes in a community can drag down entire neighborhoods.
As the county emerges from recession, however, the trends encourage commissioners.
"I think it's perfect timing," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said of goals in The Harbors redevelopment guide. Projects such as new Wawa convenience stores and gas stations can spur development, she said.
"It could be even stronger," Mariano said of diversifying the tax base. "We've got to get the bait on the hook" to entice investment.