Seminole-area residents are fighting to save a golf course from becoming a subdivision.
Ron Stephenson has lived in Seminole for 30 years and wants to save the one thing he said makes his neighborhood unique.
The Tides, located 11832 66th Ave. N., is a 72-hole golf course overlooking Boca Ciega Bay in unincorporated Pinellas County. The land is bank-owned after Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, foreclosed on it four years ago.
“When you see the sunsets come out, you think this is paradise," he said. "It’s not going to be paradise anymore. ... It’s going to be 170 homes, concrete and asphalt and water, and The Tides is going to be gone.”
A wildlife sanctuary filled with rolling sea grass and rare birds sits along Stephenson’s backyard. The property, owned by Wells Fargo, is part of The Tides Golf Club and is in danger of being eliminated.
That’s why Stephenson and others, such as Ed Methfessel, teamed up to form the group "Save The Tides Golf Course."
“It’ll change the whole dynamics of Seminole as well as even Pinellas County,“ said Ed Methfessel.
Developer Taylor Morrison has a proposal on the table to close the golf course and build 170 homes, but Pinellas County has to agree to rezone the property.
Taylor Morrison’s Vice President, Tony Squitieri, sent Bay News 9 the following statement:
The Tides Golf Course is currently under the ownership of Wells Fargo and its real estate subsidiaries.
Due to the age of the golf course, it's operating and infrastructure replacement costs and surrounding competition, the bank and the community have to have a plan as to what happens to this area when the golf course closes. The bank has come to the conclusion that the property cannot be operated as a golf course in the future. They chose an industry expert, Taylor Morrison, to redevelop the property in a way that is compatible with the existing community.
Taylor Morrison is providing a solution that we believe is in the best interest of Pinellas County. We are planning a low-density, environmentally friendly residential redevelopment. This project will provide a significant environmental benefit to the Bay and surrounding water resources by helping to clean up the Boca Ciega Bay watershed. In addition, the redevelopment will provide public green space for residents and wildlife.
Taylor Morrison is aware of the concerns that have been expressed by some members of the community. We do care about the neighborhood and want them to be a part of the process. In fact, we have actively engaged environmental groups, as well as hosted a public meeting. We will continue the outreach process and look forward to meeting with any groups interested in the project.
Residents trying to save The Tides said they have collected more than 10,000 signatures in support of their efforts.
Pinellas County commissioners will talk about this issue in September and it’s likely a decision will be made at a meeting in October.