Neighbors complain about pesticide use

06/05/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Tampa City Council took action today regarding complaints about a pesticide being sprayed at a city-owned golf course.

Babe Zararias is located in North Tampa. That course, and two others owned by the city, have been treated for the past seven years with Curfew, a chemical sold by Dow Chemical to keep golf courses clean.

Kenny Simms, director of Golf Courses for the city, said Curfew, which is used specifically to control nematodes, a parasite that attacks Bermuda grass, has proven to be more efficient than other methods. Simms said he was aware of only two complaints prior to today’s Council meeting regarding the chemical.

But Councilman John Dingfelder, who requested that city officials come before the Council to discuss the issue, told Simms he believed there were more than two people with concerns.

Roughly 1,100 residents belong to the neighborhood association that surrounds the Babe Zarahias Golf Course.

Deborah McCormack lives near the seventh hole. She guessed that up to three-quarters of those who frequent the course have no idea that the fumigant, which is classified as a restricted use pesticide because its high acute toxicity and carcinogenic effects, is actually being used.

Robert Lawson has already complained to the Florida Department of Agriculture about the spraying of Curfew. He said two years ago he and several of his neighbors grew ill after the pesticide was administered.

Noreen Follman said Babe Zaharias was just sprayed a few weeks ago. She said two years ago her son and many others passed out and became nauseous after a spraying.

Simms acknowledged that he and his staff have done a poor job of informing the residents when the pesticide will be used.

Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said she wanted the Tampa Sports Authority, which manages the city’s golf courses, to explore alternatives.

The City Council voted then to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Commission regarding the use of Curfew, as well as to the Sports Authority.

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More than just nematodes killed!

I was playing golf in on a Wednesday night a week after the application of the pesticide. The course was closed the week before for "maintenance" Last Wednesday we observed several dead and dying ducks in the ponds and a few dead giant toads. People use Babe Zaharias golf course as a community park. Kids play, roll around in the grass, people jog and walk thier dogs. Dogs go in the ponds whether people like it or not. The ponds are a sump for the runoff of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicide. Green weed and bug free grass comes at a high price. The City adn the Sports Authority have a responsibility to the public, the neighbors, the golfers who walk on and are exposed to the course and the wildlife that lives around the course. This needs more investigation and should not be dropped.