CLEARWATER - If, as it is said, the wheels of the gods grind very slowly but exceedingly fine, those gods might be found on Court Street and Largo may be able to pride itself - at long last - on something fine.
The Clearwater-Largo Road Redevelopment project that has been in existence for a decade may now be emerging into some sort of reality following the County Commission's approval Tuesday of the city's project.
Many have come and gone from this area, others have grown old, youths have completed their days from grammar school to college in the time span since the Clearwater-Largo Road project was born.
For the past 10 years it has been on the drawing board. Its delay has frustrated the city manager of Largo, and a squad of commission members in Largo have come and gone in the gestation period.
Only Karen Seel - and for good reason - opposed the development. She contends that sufficient thought has not been given to traffic and transportation.
With the new project complete, traffic on Clearwater-Largo Road will increase by something like 150 percent.
The last time the County Commission took up this issue - one year, one month and four days ago - it rejected Largo's plan based on what county commissioners thought was inadequate treatment for folks in mobile home parks and a lack of identifying affordable housing for those to be displaced by the project.
At that time, September 6, 2005, Commissioner Ronnie Duncan made a stirring plea for a countywide solution to affordable housing and was joined by Commissioner Calvin Harris in voting against Largo's plan.
It was Duncan's absence at the previous August 16 meeting, when the plan was previously examined, that brought about a 3-3 tie vote that stalled the proceedings.
Duncan and Harris were joined in that vote more than a year ago by colleagues Seel, Ken Welch and Susan Latvala in turning down the city. John Morroni and Bob Stewart gave a green light to Largo's plan at that time.
Now the whole gang, with the exception of Seel, is on board with Largo's plan.
Cleaning up the Largo-Clearwater Road corridor has been a burning issue for years. The area has been a rat's nest of drugs and prostitution. Largo police probably have more activity there than at any other location in the city.
The human problem of relocation and housing and density have been the chief problems holding up progress for the development. Seel's concerns center on long-range planning and are well taken. Planning in Pinellas County seems to come after the fact when by definition of the word planning itself it should precede expansion activity.
With County Commission approval having been the chief obstacle and that now out of the way, redevelopment - still opposed by some in Largo who live in the area - is expected to proceed.
The issue now heads back to the Largo City Commission for final approval, expected perhaps next month. Having overcome all the hurdles, there still will be controversy with opposition within Largo to be heard.
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