Disabled seniors hopeful for sidewalk project

Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 17:41:50-05
A thousand feet. That’s the distance from a Hernando County senior living facility to a shopping plaza down the road on Quality Drive in Spring Hill.
It shouldn’t be that hard to get there. But try navigating the rocky roadside in a wheel chair.
Residents tell us they are forced into the busy street and are risking their lives just to go to the store.
Cerebral palsy makes it very difficult for Arelene Sollis to speak. 
But she had no trouble getting her point across at Tuesday's Hernando County Commission meeting.
“Wait 'til 2018 for safe access. Wait 'til 2018 for a sidewalk. Are you kidding me? We need it now," she yelled from her wheelchair.
Sollis has been asking Hernando County officials to put a sidewalk in for years so those living at Vista Grand can safely make their way to nearby stores and doctor offices.
At Tuesday's meeting, U.S. Congressman Richard Nugent even showed up to express his frustration with commissioners dragging their feet.
“This is a simple project. It’s not like we are building a nuclear submarine. We are building a sidewalk," Nugent said.
There are plans in the works for a construction project putting sidewalks on both sides of Quality Drive.
But that won’t be done for at least two years.
Commissioners said there just isn’t money available now. 
But they finally agreed to look for cash to at least get the stretch done between Vista Grand and the Publix Plaza. It’s estimated to cost less than $60,000.
In the meantime residents continue to dodge cars just to run basic errands.
“We live across the street from the hospital. But we don’t want to have to use it because we got hit by a car," said Vista Grand resident Sharon Green, who is also in a wheelchair.
And Arelene continues to lead a fight she’s been at since 2012.
“Why do we have to wait six years for a sidewalk? This is not too much to ask," said Sollis.
Everybody seems to want to make this happen. Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis even offered up inmate labor to help lay down the new sidewalk.