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Port Tampa

Landfill plan will wait for debate

The city at first considered turning the old Manhattan landfill into a golf course. But some neighbors say it should be a community park.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 31, 2003


Plans to turn an old landfill into a new golf course are on hold.

City officials announced in October that they wanted to seek proposals from developers to convert the Manhattan Landfill into a driving range, a par-3 course or both.

But after an outcry from residents, city officials said Tuesday they will wait for direction from the Port Tampa Civic Association.

"The city moves at two speeds . . . slow and stop," Bob Harrell, the city's deputy administrator of development, told about 50 association members. "Right now we have moved from slow to stop.

"We're not going to do something with that piece of property that the community does not support."

Association members are divided. Some see a golf course as a recreational amenity; others think the land should be turned into a park. A full debate is expected at their meeting in March.

Mayor Dick Greco mentioned the golf course idea at a ribbon cutting in Port Tampa in October. Many residents had not heard anything about it until then, spawning accusations that the city had kept the neighborhood out of the loop.

Greco was scheduled to meet with residents Tuesday but was forced to cancel because of the Buccaneers parade, Harrell said.

The city-owned landfill is 40 acres of grassy field south of Interbay Boulevard and west of MacDill Air Force Base. It has been closed since the 1970s.

The city proposes to lease the land at low cost as long as the facility is open to the public, open to city-run children's programs and compatible with the neighborhood.

Harrell recommended the civic association give the city its blessing to solicit proposals and then "see what we get." He suggested a member of the association be included on the review panel.

If objections remain, the plan can be nixed later, he said.

Judging by Tuesday's reaction, consensus won't be easy.

Right now, the landfill is a playground for off-road vehicles, said Chris Kirschner, an architect for Port Tampa Communities, which is building 45 townhomes and 41 single-family homes nearby.

Replacing noisy machines with golfers "is a fantastic use," he said.

But others feared a golf course would allow a few people to enjoy land that should be open to all.

"We went out there the other day and watched the space shuttle take off," said Nancy Larcom. "Where else can we sit under the open sky?"

-- Staff Writer Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matus@sptimes.com .

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