Editor's note: This story originally ran in February 2012. We're putting it in the spotlight again to highlight the accomplishments one person can make. The sidewalk is now cmplete.
When Corey Smith was 12, he asked his mother why he couldn’t walk to school on Moon Lake Road and why nobody was putting a sidewalk there.
“I don’t know,” said his mother Elaine Smith, who is parks and recreation director for the city of New Port Richey. “Why don’t you do something about it?”
So he did.
It was 2008, and Corey Smith was in 7th grade at River Ridge Middle School when his mother issued the challenge.
He did research, found opportunity for funding and took his request for a sidewalk to the Pasco County Commission.
Now, Corey is 15, and the county is slated to begin work in late April on adding a shared-use path, which is wider than a sidewalk to accommodate bicycles as well as pedestrians, to the east side of Moon Lake Road. It estimates the project will be completed this summer.
“I just can’t wait for it to be done,” Corey said.
Corey Smith lives on Randee Road in Moon Lake, which, along with the school, is outside the city of New Port Richey. There were no sidewalks on Moon Lake Road in 2008.
In 2008, after his mother issued her challenge, Corey met with the New Port Richey zoning and GIS officer, who made maps for Corey that showed where crosswalks and sidewalks were needed.
Corey also contacted the district coordinator for Safe Routes to Schools, a federal program that funnels money toward projects dedicated to making sure kids get to schools.
He went to the Pasco County Commission in December 2008, armed with knowledge about Safe Routes to School. He told commissioners he and friends wanted to bike to school but couldn’t because the road was busy.
He told commissioners that he understood a widening project was being discussed for Moon Lake Road and was scheduled for 2022.
“I will be 26 years old then,” he said. “We need a sidewalk sooner than that.”
“At the young age of 12, he didn’t just tell them the problem," Elaine Smith said. "He told them how to fix it.”
After Corey brought his concerns to the commission, the county and the Pasco School District applied for the Safe Routes to School money.
In fiscal year 2010, the state Department of Transportation gave the green light for the project to be funded with Safe Routes to School money. In November of 2010, commissioners approved a Local Agency Planning that permitted the project to be designed and funded.
The project is projected to cost just shy of $111,000.
The county began work on an 8-foot wide shared-use path (which is wide enough to walk and ride a bike on) on the east side of Moon Lake Road from 200 feet north of Ridge Road to Randee Road in April 2012, according to county project administrator Deborah Bolduc. That totals 3,200 feet.
There will also be pedestrian features added on the east leg of the intersection of Ridge Road at Moon Lake/Decubellis at the existing signal.
The project was estimated to finish in mid-June 2012.
“I was like ‘finally,'” when given the news the project would be done, Corey said.
This has taken “forever” to Corey, Elaine Smith said. “But for county government, this is pretty fast.”