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Update on the USF Golf Course Property

Updated: Jun 22

Story and photo by Mary Keith, Conservation Chair, Past President


Nearly 25 Swallow-Tailed Kites were counted during a bird survey at the USF golf course.

For those not on Tampa Audubon's Conservation Interest Group, here’s a short update on recent actions regarding possible uses of the corner of 46th St. and Fletcher Ave. – the area that was once the USF Golf Course.  


USF closed the course, except for the north section that is still being used by the golf team. It abuts the USF Forest Preserve on its eastern side. Some is in flood zone, so won’t be open to development. But, the western and southern sides have been the subject of several presentations and hearings from various USF groups and one for the general public.


At the April 29 presentation I attended, USF was asking the Hillsborough County Planning Commission to rezone the property to allow for hotels, restaurants, residential, and convention center construction. They wanted to extend Genshaft Drive across Fletcher into the southern side of the property. 


At the same time, they talked about maintaining green space and movement of birds and wildlife from the western side of campus into the Preserve. 


There was much opposition to building in the area, from destruction of trees and open space to concerns about more flooding to the apartments along 46th St., increased traffic in an already congested area, and destruction of Native American sites.


 

On behalf of Tampa Audubon, Mary Keith shared information at the April 29 presentation about bird surveys she conducted at the USF preserve and how the preserve serves as an important bird habitat. She also spoke in opposition to the development and any use beyond passive recreation.

 

 

On May 8, USF withdrew its rezoning petition. However, on June 5th the Tampa Bay Times ran an article about potential redevelopment that the trustees are considering. 


So, while the withdrawal of the rezoning petition was a good step, it is obviously not the end of the story! Thanks to all who wrote to USF opposing construction. I will keep you updated, and we may ask for more letters or presenters to speak up for the birds, from the Eastern Bluebirds and Little Blue Herons, to the Swallow-Tailed Kites and kestrels that depend on those open spaces. 


If you would like to learn more about this issue and other conservation issues, contact Mary Keith.


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