Equestrian Center helps pony up for scholarships

Keira, Kaitlyn and Kevin Lee lean on the fence to get as close as they can to Bobby, Jo Budney’s miniature horse, during the Pine Ridge Equestrian Center fundraiser in April 2017. Residents said the proposed Suncoast Parkway terminus on C.R. 486 threatens their equestrian community.

Pine Ridge Estates residents sought support from Citrus County commissioners on Tuesday to keep the Suncoast Parkway from their doorstep.

Commissioners, who support extending the parkway to County Road 486, would not commit to anything specific because the state hasn’t set a route yet.

The state is now extending the parkway from U.S. 98 to State Road 44. The county has asked it be continued another two miles to C.R. 486 to avoid significant traffic increases onto C.R. 491.

But Pine Ridge residents noted the state never intended for an exit at C.R. 486, and if the state keeps the same alignment it had in place years ago, instead of an overpass the community will have traffic it doesn’t desire.

“Pine Ridge is directly in the path and will suffer greatly if it terminates at the 486 entrance,” Michael McCoy, president of the Pine Ridge Property Owners Association, said.

“Putting the terminus at 486 really provides no benefit to Pine Ridge,” he added. “Where it’s terminating now is really the best you could hope for.”

Residents said Pine Ridge is an equestrian community, with a 29-mile horse trail that crosses Pine Ridge Boulevard five times.

They said speeding now on the boulevard is common, as it is used as a connector between Beverly Hills and Crystal River.

Gail Pridgen, president of the Pine Ridge Equestrian Association, said she fears accidents where horses are injured or killed crossing the roadway.

Dee Castellano said traffic on Pine Ridge Boulevard has increased in the four years she’s lived in the community.

“It’s dangerous now and we don’t have the exit there yet,” she said.

Commissioners said they support the community.

“You have legitimate concerns,” Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said.

Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. suggested the county and community work with the Florida Department of Transportation on an alignment.

Board Chairman Jeff Kinnard also said the community needs to address the speeding issue with the sheriff’s office.

“We need to get out there,” he said, “and slow things down.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(6) comments

KSponsler

Our home is just West of the CR486 entrance to Pine Ridge. We've already received a letter from an eminent domain law firm. The worst thing about this is the uncertainty. My wife would really love to have her craft room built out. All her crafts remain in boxes since our move here 18 months ago. This has been on and off, talk of moving the exit further East, talk of an overpass versus an exit. We are bewildered as to what to do. We'd love to improve our property but this uncertainty is just crazy. We moved here because it was small, quiet and rural. Now we have folks who want to be like Ocala with the crazy traffic and alleged "industry". This county has "survived" for a heck of a long time without this crazy road that nobody drives down beyond exit 41. This is really tragic for us.

lonewolf

Commissioners over 1 decade ago had the opportunity to kill project through Citrus county, but didn't. To the detriment of this county and the citizens who live here.

commonsense

Suncoast parkway and the turnpike authority should be locked up for the years the property owners from hwy 98 north has have there lives and future plans in limbo for the many years this project been on and off the table. Its criminal.

CitrusCo Citizen

After that, the BOCC and the FTE will probably resurrect the "postponed" original plan which is to extend the Coastal Connector super highway through Pine Ridge, Citrus Springs, Dunnellon, and Southwest Ocala. I wouldn't be surprised at all if that happens. They're just taking it step by step and hoping that people will not notice. We the People can protest till the cows come home, but they will push it through, anyway, because there's big money for the fossil fuel and construction industries and high stakes for FL legislators.

bellis

Majority of us are so happy to have the suncoast come thru it needs to extend up us 19 straight up to the Georgia florida line. We need the infrastructure and a tax base or this county will never survive we need industry in here good paying jobs. We back going up to 486 and extending all the way up.

CitrusCo Citizen

Hopefully right through your home and property and not ours, since you are so concerned about increasing the tax base. How about taxing all of those huge acres of land around churches and the giant parking lots? Those are all tax free lands because the church needs them to expand their tax free properties. It's a disgrace. By the way jobs are just jobs and do not pay "good" because the minimum wage is low here and most construction jobs are temporary. What we need are careers and not just jobs.

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