Three random thoughts for no other reason than it’s Thursday:
— Commissioner Jeff Kinnard is pushing for the county to get a move on and build the multi-lane boat ramp on the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
This thing’s been in the planning for years. I have no clue why it’s taken this long but I’m sure it’s moving quickly up the priority list.
Kinnard, ironically, opposed it early on because he couldn’t see boaters driving 10 miles north when they could just launch in King’s Bay, or in the Crystal River at Fort Island Trail Park or the beach.
Circumstances have changed his opinion. The city of Crystal River, in putting in its Riverwalk, will close the city boat ramp on King’s Bay next to Charlie’s Fish House.
That puts the onus to replace it asap somewhere nearby.
I’m certainly no expert, but environmental permitting for the barge canal can’t be as difficult as placing one on the river. The barge canal is a man-made 12-foot-deep ditch that provides a straight shot to the gulf.
(Having said that, the Withlacoochee Bay Trail meandering along the barge canal is a treat to walk.)
Expect to be hearing more about this in the coming months.
— Semi-related, one of the possible sites for a boat ramp was the old Crystal River Yacht Club at the end of Sailboat Avenue off State Park Street.
The city decided, wisely, that sending vehicles pulling boat trailers down a pair of narrow two-lane roads probably wouldn’t work. Also, little parking. So, this ramp is off the table.
I took a drive out there the other day. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection owns it now and has for several decades. I don’t recall the details, but at least 20 years ago I interviewed Bo Diddley for a story about someone doing something there that wasn’t quite following the rulebook.
It’s peaceful and serene today.
Back in the late 1990s, this was home to the SunCruz casino boat.
You read that right. We had gambling tourism in Citrus County.
SunCruz was a four-hour casino cruise to nowhere. Basically it would sail out to international waters where everyone could gamble for two hours, and then head back.
It was based in New Port Richey and I can’t for the life of me remember why it wanted to expand up here, but it did.
I went on both voyages the first day for Chronicle purposes, of course. I lost $83 in slots and you’re darn right I expensed it.
The local environmental types were not happy at all. Look at the size of that boat and imagine it chugging in and out of a tight channel.
Sure enough, the boat captain was arrested for churning up turbidity. DEP and SunCruz ended up in court; eventually, SunCruz moved to a spot on the barge canal, where it never really took off.
The company folded in 2009. Man, that’s a Citrus County memory.
— Credit to Just Wright Citrus readers who asked some pointed questions about the county survey I wrote about earlier this week.
The county has a consultant that came up with a survey about communicating and branding. The County Commission is planning a strategic planning workshop this month and commissioners will discuss the results.
I mention that the county sent the survey to 20 organizations and agencies, including Just Wright Citrus.
Readers wanted to know two things: How much was the consultant and who received the survey?
Here's a little follow-up:
The consultant is Tallahassee-based Bulldog Strategy Group. County Administrator Steve Howard is familiar with the business and while not a bid, it provided the lowest quote of companies the county contacted.
It’s costing the county $8,000 for Bulldog to develop the survey and come up with a communications strategy plan from it. The cost didn't cross the threshold needed for County Commission approval. Mike note: To clarify, the $8,000 plan will include more than just the survey results. The survey is a part of it but not the whole thing.
The survey was sent to: both hospitals; Citrus 2030 participants; Chamber of Commerce; county constitutional officers; both cities; CoreCivic (jail operator); Duke Energy; Citrus County Health Department; and the courts. The email asked them to distribute it to others who may have an interest.
Wednesday was the deadline for submission and when I checked, the county had about 15 responses. Yikes. At least a few of those are from JWC readers who requested the survey after reading about it here.
I’ll print my answers in a blog next week. But 15 responses from a survey that is widely distributed sounds like a flaw in the survey. The county is basically left with little more than a dozen or so opinions. That the board would use these so-called survey results to help shape policy is a little disconcerting.
I’m planning to ask for them all, so it’ll be interesting to see what folks came up with.
There you go. My work is done here for today. Carry on.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.