Save Green Space: Tides

A family of otters hangs out at the Tides Golf Club property. The golf course closed last June.

By now, Save the Tides is used to protesting the development of green space, said Ron Stephens, a board member for the organization.

After all, this isn’t the first time a developer has expressed interest in rezoning and redeveloping the Tides Golf Club, 11832 66th Ave. N.

About six years ago, developer Taylor Morrison wanted to build 170 single- and multi-family homes on the land, which is adjacent to Boca Ciega Bay and Boca Ciega Millennium Park. The project would have required significant rezoning, which Pinellas County staff did not recommend, as the proposed development was inconsistent with the county’s comprehensive plan and policies regarding open space.

Save the Tides rallied residents and was engaged throughout the entire rezoning application process.

Now, the property has new owners, who shut down the golf course last June.

In a notice to club members, the owners said, “After enduring Hurricane Irma and the ensuing clean-up, the club has seen a continued decrease in activity. Due to the lack of support from the golfing community, the owners have made the decision to close operations effective July 1, 2018. A golf course at this location is not a viable business.”

The club’s operation manager and golf professional at the time, David Britt, told a different story, though. He said the club had about 120 active members, roughly the same number of members as the year prior.

Now, the owners have formed the Tides Development Group in hopes of redeveloping the property as a single-family subdivision.

It didn’t take long for Save the Tides to spring back into action. Over six years, they’ve amassed more than 15,000 signatures supporting the preservation of the land as green space.

TDG held two community charrettes this spring. The group’s attorney, Joel Tew, said he was disappointed by the turnout at meetings and the unwillingness of the Save the Tides organization to meet with developers.

“Why would we?” asked Stephens. “They’re just going to do what they want to do and don’t care what we want. They just want to make it seem like they tried to work with us.”

The group won’t tolerate any development on the property, he added.

“We need these green spaces,” he said. “Once you build on them, you can’t take it back. This land needs to stay zoned as recreational open space.”