PORT RICHEY, Fla. — The City of Port Richey is currently drawing up plans to redevelop the area surrounding Nick’s Park. They’re looking for the public’s input when it comes to whether or not to keep the boat ramp open, or close it for good.
City leaders said it’s one of the nicest pieces of city-owned property in the area. It’s in the entertainment district, with restaurants, and small businesses. It’s also a major tourist destination over the holidays and scallop season. Right now, they’re in the process of making improvements.
“There’s plans for lighting sidewalks, just overall, roads, general public safety issues,” said City of Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay.
So far, the plans also include a one-way loop from Nick’s Park which would go up Cotee Avenue, across Old Post Road, and back down Treadway Drive.
Officials are also taking a look at what the Nick’s Park area would look like with, and without, the boat ramp.
“Ninety percent of the people that use it, according to our surveys, don’t live here in the city, they’re county residents,” said Mayor Tremblay.
Mayor Tremblay said he wants tax-paying residents to decide whether to keep the ramp and pay for needed repairs, or to turn the Nick’s Park parking lot into a park.
“Is this public space better utilized the way it is now? Or would the people of Port Richey prefer to have a more family-friendly space where they can enjoy this beautiful view?” asked City of Port Richey Manager John Dudte.
But businesses in the area have concerns that if the ramp closes down, it may take business away from the area.
“So many people come and eat at these waterfront restaurants, but I think that a large majority of them aren’t necessarily local residents, they’re coming from anywhere else to come here, and I would think that we want that,” said Melinda Maghan, an employee at The Bait Depot.
They also have concerns about the proposed one-way traffic pattern.
“If they widen the road a little bit, and they could have like a boat/trailer lane, specifically for the ramp, and then still the two-way, that would make a lot more sense,” said Maghan.
And county leaders also expressed worries over the potential ramp closure during a commission meeting earlier this month.
“If you remove that boat ramp, you’re really taking out an integral part of, really, tourism for Pasco County,” said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore during the November 2nd county commission meeting.
Moore also expressed concerns that the Nick's Park boat ramp relieves congestion at the Anclote Key boat ramp, and the Sims Park boat ramp.
But Tremblay said because so much of the ramp usage comes from people outside the city limits; he’s not sure that the city should foot the entire bill.
“We’ve reached out to them to see if they would have any interest in working on that project with us, and we haven’t received any responses that would indicate that they would be,” said Mayor Tremblay.
Port Richey leaders said it’s ultimately up to residents and the city council to decide.