ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills residents were given the opportunity to “reimagine” Gall Boulevard in a meeting Thursday evening at Alice Hall Community Center.
About 50 people attended the “reimagining” session, which included information about options and an interactive survey to help determine designs the city should pursue to help convert the street into a more friendly “Main Street” thoroughfare.
U.S. 301 travels through the center of Zephyrhills, and the city owns the one-way roadways of 6th and 7th avenues. When future highway improvements are implemented, the two one-way avenues will be widened to three lanes and will be turned over to the Florida Department of Transportation as part of U.S. 301. The center street, Gall Boulevard, will be returned to city control.
“In that transfer, Gall Boulevard will come to the city,” said Zephyrhills Director of Development Todd Vande Berg, who led the meeting. “Our goal tonight is to begin the process of transforming Gall Boulevard into a traditional Main Street. A little bit north of North Avenue and a little bit south of South Avenue is the area of our concentration. The goal is to have a great street.”
[U.S.] 301 is changing,” Vande Berg added. “[City] staff is currently working with DOT and their consulting engineers and we’re working on enhancements to the one-way pair corridor that eventually becomes 301.”
“There is some resurfacing that’s going to occur,” he said. “They are putting in some curbing. There’s some sidewalks that are going in.”
Tammy Vrana of Vrana Consulting, which is working with the city on the project, said there is only 60 feet of right-of-way available for the transformation of the street.
“So when you start to think about things like medians or sidewalks or bike lanes or travel lanes or on-street parking, you’re going to have to make some choices,” Vrana said.
About 39 people participated in the interactive survey of possible designs for Gall Boulevard. Choices of the options available were flashed on the wall and the people made a choice by using a “clicker” for Option A or B.
Participants generally chose wider sidewalks and narrow medians with staggered on-street parking and a dedicated bike lane. Sidewalks were a priority named by 34 respondents.
The survey shows people prefer commercial business over residential development and buildings two to four floors high. If there is residential space, townhome residential is preferred over large apartment complexes, but ground-floor retail space with residential space above it is preferred over ground-floor residential buildings.
Permanent public space is preferred over temporary spaces and hard-surface plazas over green space. The division was close between structured parking and surface lots, but if a parking garage were built there was a preference for ground floor retail.
Chris Bahr owns Chris Bahr Plumbing on Gall Boulevard — in the center of possible changes for the avenue.
“I thought it went well,” he said of the meeting. “I would say I feel better about it than when the government was going to give us whatever they were going to give us. With the city in control, we’re going to have better input.”
As far as the choices made, he agreed with a few of them. “It will have its own unique feel to it,” he said.
Whether the changes will enhance his business or not, he can’t say. “I walked away encouraged, more than I did other meetings,” he said.
Three more public meetings are planned; two are scheduled Jan. 9 and March 8.