On Thursday, June 25, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) held an open house and public hearing on the extension of the Florida Suncoast Parkway at Lecanto High School. Although around 400 people showed up, mostly to protest the extension, the turnout was considered to be about half as much as the 2 previous such meetings. Many of our members came away with the feeling that “It’s a done deal”, although the planning for the project is deeply flawed and hurried. (What else is new with this state government? Look what just happened to the Black Bears).

Nancy Kost, a Sierra Club member from Homosassa, sent notes after the meeting: 1.The attorney for the Homosassa Special Water District was very concerned about the retention pond(s) at the intersection of Grover Cleveland Blvd. and the parkway as they were over the District’s wellfield. She said the retention pond liners won’t work and the wellfield would be endangered if there were an oil/chemical spill that entered the ponds. She requested to move the ponds 5,000 ft away from the wellfields. 2. The 1998 Environmental Report was obsolete. The Federal study is dated 2006. The two studies don’t agree. The Brooksville ridge would be endangered, there is no need for the road, except perhaps trucks. It ends at SR 44 east of Crystal River (nowhere). 3. There are no park and ride lots and the need for a larger parking lot for the trailhead and the need for bus parking and lighting. Additionally, costs for these should be in the parkway cost and not be up to the county. 4. The route is too short, tolls won’t justify the highway. Instead fix US19. Suggested parkway go to Red Level as we need a by-pass for Crystal River. 5. With the FDOT schedule, there will be less than 90 days for condemnations of properties, giving those property owners only 90 days to question offers. 6. The parkway won’t pay for itself. Major corporations won’t pay tolls (based on Dade County case). Major environmental issue – we are the NATURE COAST. There is only one overpass for wildlife. No culverts for same are shown on maps. People here enjoy wildlife and animals have no place to go. 7. Citrus County Historical Society protested running highway thru historical marker – Etna Turpentine camp, asked why there is an exit at Cardinal when it’s so close to the start at US98. They thought the exit should be at Grover Cleveland instead, closer to the college, and questioned exit at Crystal Oaks development, stated exits too far from Citrus County Welcome Center on US19. 8.Citrus County has no growth management plan, no development code, no impact fees and taxpayers pay for everything. This new highway is not wanted by the citizens here. 9. There is a state law that the road must pay for itself in a certain amount of time. The survival of Crystal River and Inverness is in jeopardy. History has proved that in small towns businesses move out to the highway when one is built. The highway will wipe out downtown areas of Crystal River and Inverness. 10.There is no date for the payoff from tolls nor a plan on how a projected 5,000 vehicles/day will pay for itself. 11. The highway is too close to Sugarmill Woods community. There will be a big noise impact. Suggested another route to relieve noise. Again, it is obvious that the craze to expand the population into the wild areas of North Central Florida, in this case, the Nature Coast, by the state government is out of control of the citizens who fund it.