Fields in stormwater plan, but trees outBy JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003
CLEARWATER -- Angry opposition from neighbors didn't convince city commissioners to cut two soccer fields from their plan to replace Glen Oaks Golf Course with a stormwater management site.
But the outcry has created an unintended casualty: a stand of live oak and sweet gum trees on the north side of the 22-acre property.
Hoping to ease neighbors' concerns about noise, traffic and bright lights, city officials agreed Monday to cut the trees and move one of the soccer fields roughly 200 feet west and slightly north, farther from homes along Turner Street and Hillcrest Avenue.
"We wanted to save as many as possible," City Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar said. "We had originally designed around them."
Preliminary plans called for the trees to stay, with a field built on each side.
But Monday, commissioners regretfully agreed that the trees, including one 60-inch live oak, would have to be sacrificed.
"We have the opportunity to plant new trees to replace what we're taking out," Commissioner Hoyt Hamilton said.
Brandon Gibbs, for one, is furious with the decision.
"I can't believe they can get away with cutting those live oak," he said. "It takes an act of God for a private citizen to cut down anything over 5 inches."
Gibbs, 28, lives at 1411 Turner St. and has fought bitterly against the proposed fields. He has criticized the city for building new fields, which he says are used primarily by people who live outside Clearwater.
"They're not really listening to the neighborhood," Gibbs said. "They just ignored it and did what they wanted to do."
City commissioners said they would not vote on the measure, but they will hold a public hearing to allow neighbors a chance to give feedback. The meeting date had not been scheduled as of Monday afternoon, but Dunbar said it would likely take place in May or June.
The fields, which Dunbar said could also be used for football, lacrosse and field hockey, will go on high ground on the northern edge of the property. Also planned is a trail system, picnic area and playground along a 13-acre pond that will be 8 feet deep in places.
The project will cost about $4.3-million and is aimed at reducing flooding and pollution along Stevenson Creek.
City officials say the pond will serve as a drainage tool to protect about 78 nearby apartments and homes.
The project is designed to filter about 16,500 pounds of silt and debris and hundreds of pounds of harmful minerals from the creek's water each year.
As part of the plans, the David L. Martin soccer field across Court Street will become wetlands.
In other business Monday, commissioners:
Agreed to spend $404,766.45 on restoration, repair and maintenance of the Municipal Services Building and Garden Avenue parking garages.
Agreed to pay Tampa consultant Grimail Crawford Inc. $90,000 to study the feasibility of a monorail from downtown to the beach.
Both issues are scheduled for a formal vote on Thursday during a 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks