Brooker Creek Preserve saved from ball fields?
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Pinellas County has promised a group called East Lake Youth Sports Association, or ELYSA, that several sports fields would be built within Brooker Creek Preserve, but citizens are fighting that plan. This morning Pinellas County Government and Pinellas County School Board held a press conference to announce what may be a solution to this problem. The conference was held at the site of an alternative site for the ballfields, -- a vacant lot owned by the School Board at the southeast corner of East Lake and Keystone roads. WMNFâ€™s SeÃ¡n Kinane asked Jim McDonald from the Council of North County Neighborhoods what he thought of the plan to build the ball fields on the site of a future middle school.
â€œWe feel pretty good about it. It removes the prospect of that being in the Brooker Creek Preserve, taking about 38-plus acres to do that and moves it out of there, and moves it to a more common area, existing area that wonâ€™t be used for a Middle School for quite some time. Itâ€™s a good collaborative effort between the School Board and the County to come up with that. Itâ€™s nice that they did decide to take the alternatives that were available. They went through a lot of research, had the staff really go through some extra efforts to look at alternative sites, then came up with this one. Thatâ€™s really great, I think, for everyone involved.â€
Lorraine Margeson, an environmental activist from St. Pete. She is glad that the ball fields will not be built inside the preserve, but wants more assurances that Brooker Creek will remain a preserve.
â€œWell, I think they needed to build it anywhere other than on the Brooker Creek Preserve property. So Iâ€™m glad they did make a move in that direction although I do not feel confident that the Preserve is yet protected. This is just a move at a particular time from that location originally planned until perhaps it gets assailed again. Our situation is still that a lot of the preserve, or at least 24 hundred acres of it has no designation which would protect it completely from these kind of intrusions ever occurring again in the future.â€
Margeson is concerned that Brooker Creek Preserve will be re-mapped by the county which could lead to the development of natural areas.
â€œWe donâ€™t want them to do it, period. Thereâ€™s no reason to out-parcel anything from Brooker Creek Preserve. It was advertised for years in many glossy brochures that Brooker Creek Preserve was 8300 acres, not 6400 or whatever they want to leave us with in terms of being considered completely preserved land. So we want the re-mapping off the table. There should be no re-mapping of Brooker Creek Preserve.â€
Calls to Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala were not returned by airtime.
For WMNF News, Iâ€™m SeÃ¡n Kinane
Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve