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Hacienda Cleanup Draws Flock of Volunteers

Cleanup "impossible" without community support, city leaders say.

The Hacienda Hotel has sat vacant for years, but on Saturday, it was full of activity.

A flock of people descended on the on the Hacienda Saturday community cleanup of the historic downtown landmark. The public was let into the building and courtyard and given the chance to clean the property inside and out.

Hundreds of people came to help out at the cleanup, which was organized by the city. Interim city manager Susan Dillinger said that close to 350 volunteers signed up to participate in the event. They were joined by city staff city staff and city council members.

The cleanup was “impossible” without the support from community members, said Susan Dillinger, interim city manager.

“This is something they’ve wanted for years, and they got their wish,” she said.

Volunteers performed work throughout the property. Some spruced up the courtyard. Some stripped carpet from the hotel’s living/social room inside the entrance facing Main Street.  Some sweeped the living room, guest hotel rooms,  hallways or second floor balcony.  Some covered the outer walls of the building with primer. Some worked on the roof.

The Hacienda opened for business as a hotel in 1927. Celebrities from that era were reportedly sighted at the Hacienda when it was a hotel.

According to Pasco history website Fivay.org, a photo of the Hacienda from 1930  carried the caption: “Here were assembled at various times some of the most famous living celebrities of stage and screen, including Thomas Meighan, Leon Errol, Madeline Cameron, Frances Ring, Flora Zabelle, and numerous others as well as such noted writers as Bob Davis, George Ade, Ring Lardner, Hal W. Lanigan and others.

The Hacienda eventually was used as an assisted living facility. The city CRA bought the Hacienda in the early years of last decade, and the building has been vacant since 2006. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the folks who appreciated the opportunity to enter the Hacienda was Ben Barber, who lives in the unincorporated New Port Richey area. He has a history degree,. He was found on the second floor balcony, sweeping the  balcony and scraping at what looked liked bee nests in the balcony roof.

“I wanted to participate in this because…this hotel has a lot of historic value for the city, and I think it’s being underutilized at this point,” he said. “So we need to clean it up so it can be used for something important.

The city council voted last month to end their relationship with Community Development Partners, a development firm. The city had been negotiating with the firm for years on the proposal to redevelop the Hacienda.

Now, leaders are pondering next steps for the Hacienda Hotel.

Dillinger says there might be more cleanups in the future.  The city council recently authorized the purchase of a security camera system for the property that will be paid for with seized forfeiture funds from the police department.

Councilman Bill Phillips, a big proponent of the cleanup, said city officials were really pleased with the work done Saturday. Participants knocked out a lot of the work in two or two and a half hours.

Phillips said a mission of the cleanup was to get the community reinvested in downtown New Port Richey and the Hacienda, “which has obviously really been the jewel of the city for a long time.”

“Thank you to the volunteers,”  Phillips said. “Thank you the city staff and all the project managers. We just couldn’t have done this without you. Really this exceeds any level of expectation that we had.”

Want to know more about the people who cleaned up the Hacienda?  Check out our video of why they cleaned up the building.

Rob Marlowe January 14, 2013 at 11:37 AM
This is what can happen when a community comes together. Thanks to everyone who turned out.
Spellbinding Sherry January 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed working among you wonderful folks who I am happy to call my neighbors. It's TIME we were better acquainted. This is a great way to weave our community. THANK YOU to the volunteers/city workers and THANK YOU to the council for letting us, finally, show you how we really feel about the Hacienda, about our town and about one another. *WE ARE COMMUNITY CAPABLE* I love my hometown and I'm glad I still live here <3
Hugh January 14, 2013 at 02:16 PM
We went downtown to eat dinner on Saturday night. The Hacienda was all lit up and looking good. I had never seen the lights on like that in the eight years that I have lived here.
MaryAnn January 14, 2013 at 07:16 PM
I've lived in the area my whole life and have watched this beautiful hotel come alive and go silent.....I dream of having enough money to buy it, refurbish it, and run it myself. If only I had the money to fund the dream. Maybe someone will be luck enough to do it.
Michael Malterer January 15, 2013 at 02:04 PM
The turnout really was great. Can't wait to see what this place looks like once it is fully restored. It is already starting to look great.
guillermo January 20, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Now that the Hacienda has ben clean up, What it is Next? For starters, I would like to see the Hacienda converted into a Place for Arts, Comedy entertainmet, musical recitals, Except gungle music, lectures poetry reading etc, and a Ball room for dancing music of th 40s ans 50s by Big Bands, art gallery, a good coffe shop away from the boring Starbucks, The library could be relocated to this site, plus a shopping gallery of books, paintings and handcrafts and so for, in the back of the building a permanent Farmers' Market, flee market and other vendors so the Hacienda could be auto suficient on its expensesplus profits, besides of a public service to the comunity. Also, I might say wee need in downtown NPR a Bank brach or a Credit Union for our needs.

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