Plant-ballfield plan is dropped

Published May 26, 2007

EAST LAKE - Seven weeks after Pinellas County Administrator Steve Spratt suggested that a water-blending plant site in the Brooker Creek Preserve might also be used for ballfields, the county has dropped the notion.

The reason: The County Commission signaled this week that it backs a plant plan leaving no room for ballfields at the 46-acre Trinity Boulevard site.

As a result, the county has withdrawn a request to change the site's land use designation so that ballfields might be allowed alongside a water blending plant, officials said Thursday.

That means the East Lake Youth Sports Association remains in limbo about where it will be allowed to build ballfields for its popular programs.

Some Trinity area residents are relieved.

"We could see the need for water, " said John Fernandez, president of the adjoining Bellerive at Fox Hollow subdivision's homeowners association. "But open air recreation - that would have gone beyond the pale."

Pinellas County Utilities officials had promised Trinity homeowners that they would be good neighbors, planting shrubbery to screen sight of the facility and taking measures to muffle sound. So Fernandez said neighbors were mollified.

But active recreation in the northern portion of the Brooker Creek Preserve struck a nerve.

"We all have a problem with the preserve being used for anything other than what it is - a preserve, " he said. "If you change one area to active recreation, what's next?"

Another controversial request for a land use change to allow the East Lake Youth Sports Association to build ballfields on a 38.5-acre site in the preserve on Old Keystone Road is still in process. County planning staff will hear that request June 18.

Also at the County Commission workshop on Tuesday, county staff raised the possibility of a half-dozen other options for locating ballfields in North Pinellas County on school, government or private property. The commission ordered that those options be investigated.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or 727 445-4170.

IF you go

Preserve hearing will be June 18

The second hearing on a land use change to allow ballfields on 38.5 acres of the Brooker Creek Preserve on Old Keystone Road will be held before the Local Planning Agency at 4 p.m. on June 18. The meeting will be held in the seventh-floor planning department conference room, 600 Cleveland St., Clearwater. But as the date approaches, recheck the meeting location on the county's Web site, www.pinellascounty.org/Plan/default.htm or call (727) 464-8200.