Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Under resident pressure, Safety Harbor rezones city land as green space

SAFETY HARBOR — It was six months ago that Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub seemed set on selling city-owned land known as the Messenger property.

The 10-acre parcel near Harborside Church on Marshall Street is landlocked and not walkable in some parts. It made sense, Ayoub said, to sell the land and use the money for other projects the community could enjoy.

City commissioners promptly quashed the idea, unconvinced it was a good time to sell. But, under pressure from dozens of vocal residents, the commission went even further Monday.

With Ayoub leading the arguments, commissioners voted 4-1 to rezone the property and limit its use to recreation and green space. The move, Ayoub said, was to comfort those residents concerned about a possible sale.

"We're sending a signal to residents we're not interested in selling it," Ayoub said.

The city bought the property in 1999 with the intention of building soccer fields, a proposal that rallied neighbors to City Hall over concerns about noise, lighting and the potential loss of trees.

The soccer fields were never built because the city could not arrange public access to the property. So the stretch has become a preservation area of sorts, with 3 acres of protected wetlands and lots of birds.

That's why Commissioner Richard Blake argued Monday that the zoning change was unnecessary.

"We can keep the property the way it's zoned now and do whatever we want with it," Blake said, adding that rezoning would only tie the hands of the city. "It still doesn't make sense to me that we would devalue a city asset because of political pressure."

"I don't know if I'd call it political pressure as much as listening and making an informed decision," Ayoub replied.

In contrast to a meeting in June when dozens of residents angrily asked why the City Commission might ever have considered selling the property, few residents showed up Monday to watch them vote to protect it.

Although a sale may have been difficult given the site's lack of public access, Ayoub had hoped to use proceeds to help finance the waterfront parkland the city acquired behind the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. There, the city has a long-term plan to build pedestrian trails, a boardwalk, a canoe launch and other assets.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at or (727) 445-4155.

Under resident pressure, Safety Harbor rezones city land as green space 08/06/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'


    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco


    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game


    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?


    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]