Osceola County officials were hoping Wednesday's Four Corners Summit could help launch serious discussions about a plan to extend the sidewalk and "Beautivacation" project on W192 all the way to U.S. 27 in Polk County.
"Today was a great first step," said David Buchheit, executive director of the W192 Development Authority.
Osceola County has used special assessments and property tax within the community redevelopment area (CRA) to build sidewalks and install streetlights, mile markers and landscaping on the corridor. But that project, known as the "Beautivacation" project, ends at the S.R. 429 interchange.
"We would like to continue that project but it would make most sense if we could do that in partnership with the other counties," Buchheit said.
Officials from the other counties also voiced support for the extension.
"There's a lot of respect for what's happening on the W192 corridor in Osceola," Lake County Economic Development Director Robert Chandler said. "It's an excellent model and we'd love to be a part of it."
Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd vowed to bring the issue up with his board, but he told GrowthSpotter it would be a challenge to find a funding source. The northern half of the road, including the area directly across from Margaritaville Resort, is in Orange County.
"I don't have development taking place that helps me make those developers put in the improvements," he said.
One funding option could be a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU), a special tax district that would charge property tax assessments to the business owners along the corridor. That's how Osceola paid for many of its improvements, but Boyd said his constituents aren't clamoring for sidewalks on the corridor.
"That will never happen," Boyd said. "They don't want it."
But he said applying to the Florida Department of Transportation for sidewalk funding or grants wouldn't be out of the question. And leaders from all four counties agreed to begin discussions on an interlocal agreement to adopt the W192 streetscape design standards.
Steve Silcock, president of the Four Corners Area Council, said the business group has been successful bringing the counties together in the past on transportation issues and public safety mutual aid agreements.
"My takeaway from today is that there's a willingness to work together," he said. "The beautivacation project is big. We have to extend that. We can't have it stopping at 429 because there's so much past that."
Buchheit said that as Osceola moves forward with plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on the corridor, the extension becomes critical.
"We can't have sidewalks on just one side of the street, because the buses go in both directions," he said. "At the very least, we should finish the sidewalks so we don't have someone walking along the shoulder of a 50 mph road."