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Preserve request vexes Oldsmar City Council

After an activist asked Oldsmar City Council members to take a stand in favor of protecting the Brooker Creek Preserve, council members had one question.

"I want to know exactly what we're going to protect it from," Mayor Jerry Beverland said Wednesday, the day after the City Council's discussion. "We can protect it from Russia. I don't know what they're talking about."

The issue was placed on the agenda after council members heard on Nov. 17 from Greg Rublee, an Oldsmar resident and a board member of the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve.

Rublee asked the city to support protection of the preserve. Rublee also has recently announced his intention to run for the City Council in March.

The preserve's 8,000-plus acres are bordered by East Lake and Oldsmar. The county has considered controversial plans for the preserve, including pumping water from it to irrigate a private golf course and leasing 38 acres to a youth sports complex.

The move to lobby the city for support was on Rublee's own initiative, said Walt Hoskins, chairman of the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve.

But the City Council was reluctant to pass a resolution or send a letter to county commissioners before getting more specific.

"I don't think the city should get involved unless some important position is brought up," Beverland said.

Still, most council members said they were in support of protecting the preserve.

"It is a preserve, and we would like it to live up to the name preserve," Vice Mayor Janice Miller said. "I can see hiking trails through there, things like that, but as Greg Rublee said, to irrigate a private enterprise like the golf course is really kind of typical government stuff."

Rublee said he will come back to council members with a presentation, educating them on how the county's proposed projects could harm the preserve. His goal is to persuade the council to draft a resolution or a letter to county commissioners, urging them to think about how their decisions may impact the environment.

"My hope is that Oldsmar will help take the lead in voicing to the county that this is something we have to make sure we protect and preserve as it is now," Rublee said.