LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — This November, Largo residents will vote on whether the city should consider selling 87 acres of city-owned property located north of 8th Avenue Southeast and south of East Bay Drive to make way for a recreation complex.
City commissioners voted 4-2 Tuesday night to put the referendum question on the ballot.
However, the decision was met with tons of opposition, as dozens of people spoke against the project.
Megan Jetter lives in the new Haven community, where their road would turn into an access point.
“I’m the one that’s going to have every single car pass my home,” Jetter said. “Too many unknowns and too many concerns for us to be comfortable with it being here.”
Highland Avenue Southeast runs through two 55 and older communities and dead ends. Not only do residents have traffic and safety concerns, they’re worried about noise and environmental impacts.
“We feel very trapped,” Jetter said. “You’re talking about the elderly and disabled anywhere between the ages of 55 and 102 back in this community that are still using this road.”
“I feel so sorry for the people who live on this end of Highland,” New Haven resident Charlene Emmett said. “It’s going to be a disaster if we have that many cars coming in and out.”
Not everyone spoke against the project Tuesday.
“I don’t think this sort of development can just die here,” one man said.
“Definitely, let’s go to the voters,” one woman said.
The referendum question will go to the voters in November, but the city commission still has the final say and could still say no to the developer.
Porter Development owner Les Porter said his team reached out to the community and surrounding neighborhoods early on in the process.
“We’re going to be educating people and take feedback and see how we can mitigate concerns,” Porter said.
He told 8 on Your Side they want to create a destination in Largo.
“We would like the citizens of Largo to have something to do in their city versus going somewhere else,” Porter said.
According to the company’s website, the complex, repurposing the vacant site of an old city landfill, would include:
- a 170,000-square foot active recreation center
- 40 pickleball courts, 16 outdoor and 24 open-air covered
- a 10-acre public lagoon, a crystal-clear body of water for kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming
- 8 basketball courts
- 16 volleyball courts
- Duck Pin Bowling
- Host Multiple Youth Sports
- A climbing course
- Family arcade
- Food & beverage service
Many in the New Haven community, like Jetter said they’re not backing down.
“We’ve chosen to live on this road because it’s safe, it’s quiet, and we’d like to continue to see it that way,” Jetter said. “It’s already kind of a packed area. It’s a green space that was given to the city of Largo as a gift and is meant to be used as green space.”