The county’s first 7-Eleven gas station/convenience store will open in Homosassa Friday but the talk of the town is not so much about Slurpees as it is about the concrete barrier along West Cardinal Street that has changed the traffic pattern at the new store.
The Chronicle has received several emails and phone calls from people objecting to the barrier.
Walt Eastmond, the county’s project manager, said the raised traffic separator allowing the right-in and right-out from both the new 7-Eleven and Circle K — almost directly across the street on Cardinal — was mandated for safety reasons. The idea was formed after a meeting with the county, 7-Eleven and the Florida Department of Transportation.
The 7-Eleven chain paid for it as part of its permit, Eastmond said.
“We had a safety issue that had to be addressed,” he said.
Eastmond said he’s had about two emails from folks questioning the barrier but that’s been all. An employee at Circle K said some customers signed a petition to get the barrier removed and that it was delivered to County Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr., who represents that area.
When asked about it Wednesday, Kitchen said he has enacted a new policy not to talk to the Citrus County Chronicle. County staffers later said they had not received a petition.
The biggest problem is apparently drivers going west on Cardinal who must now either travel through the Walmart parking lot and wind their way around to U.S. 19 to enter Circle K. Or they can do what shopper Michael Gegan of Homosassa does: make a U-turn at U.S. 19.
Gegan, who lives off West Cardinal and patronizes Circle K almost every day, said the barrier is creating a dangerous situation for drivers.
He understands the safety issue but wonders why engineers couldn’t have cut out a small space from the barrier allowing eastbound Cardinal traffic to turn in at Circle K.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven is pulling out all the stops for its new store at 6711 U.S. 19. The grand opening celebration Friday will start at 11 a.m. and include fresh food sampling, free coffee and Big Gulp drinks.
Radio station 103.9 The Boot will be on-site from noon to 3 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity (for people) to get to know the new franchisee in the neighborhood and put a face to the name rather than some random business owner,” said Hannah Anderson, who is helping with public relations for 7-Eleven.
Sanjay Patel is the franchisee for that new 7-Eleven.
A second 7-Eleven is being built about two miles south of the Cardinal site and will be located at 9335 U.S. 19, by the Publix-anchored Shoppes of Sugarmill Woods.
There is no date set for the grand opening of that location.