Claude Jenet simply wanted to save a neighborhood gem.
Not far from his Pinellas Point home was an American Indian burial mound estimated to be 1,000 to 1,800 years old.
But centuries after its use as a sacred temple, local teenagers had slowly turned the mound into their own unkempt playground, he said.
The mound that belonged to the Tocobaga American Indian Tribe — one of Pinellas County's earliest inhabitants — was now home to mountain bike tracks, trash and graffiti, along with wild growth and uncut grass.
"The mound has been neglected for years," said Jenet, president of the Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association. "We needed to do something about it."
The local residents did.
Now a yearlong preservation project is entering its final stages.
On Friday, archaeologists from the Florida Public Archaeology Network and University of South Florida students are expected to plant 100 native plants to stop erosion of the mound, and community volunteers will clean the site from 8 to 11 a.m.
This progress comes after a fence was built around the mound last year, though that did not stop a recent arson on trees at the site, he said.
USF spokeswoman Barbara Perkins said she was pleased with the students' willingness to get involved with preserving the mound.
"This is another example of the emphasis we put on community engagement," Perkins said. "It provides a learning experience to them on how to become involved in their communities."
Jenet said later plans could include making a walkway available for visitors. Efforts to alter the site must be approved by state archaeologists since this was designated a historic site in 2003.
He hopes efforts to preserve the mound will provide a learning opportunity for anyone who sees the site, which was sacred to members of the Tocobaga Tribe.
"It's a matter of education," Jenet said. "People don't realize it's a mound. It's to be respected."
The mound is on Pinellas Point Drive S near the 21st Street S intersection.
Eddie R. Cole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8779.