RUSKIN, Fla. — Development in South Hillsborough County is a big talker, especially in the Ruskin area.
Something a lot of people may not have known is at one point Ruskin was considered the Salad Bowl of America. Farms lined this whole area but now times have changed.
A lot of the farms here now are smaller and development is taking over.
Commissioner Mariella Smith says she's fighting for smarter development in this area.
"Infrastructure in South County is a dumpster fire and so the commissioners are hearing it, we have new commissioners, we have a new board," explains Commissioner Smith. "So yes, there is hope. We are changing the old ways into a more smart growth way of managing growth with infrastructure as we grow."
Commissioners recently raised impact fees on developers, which Smith says will help pay for some of the infrastructure issues, like roads.
But, water infrastructure is another big issue that Commissioner Smith says is lowering the standard of service here.
"But meanwhile, we're in a hole, we're in a deficit with traffic problems and water restrictions because growth has overrun our watering infrastructure. So we are, I keep saying, when you're in a hole, the first thing you have to do is stop digging" Smith says. "So we do have to address the backlog. And as we're addressing that, and we are improving Big Bend Road, that will be done in a couple of years now with widening and better access ramps to the interstate state. The next one is Gibsonton Road."
"We're also doing smaller projects," Smith added, "We have just now rebuilt the little Second Street Bridge over the Ruskin inlet, a piece of the Little Manatee river you might see behind the library, and the Firehouse when you do that story. So we are, you know, trying to address the sins of the past, if you will, while we get funding to also to plan and manage growth moving forward in a smart growth way and putting growth where the infrastructure is rather than sprawling it farther and farther out and trying to chase the infrastructure add to that which is very, very expensive."