A number of Oldsmar residents expressed concerns about the city’s recently approved zipline park during the City Council meeting on Tuesday.
An aerial view of the layout for the new zipline adventure park that’s scheduled to be constructed in Oldsmar this spring. Credit: City of Oldsmar.
When the news broke that Oldsmar was going to be the first city in the Tampa Bay area to receive a zipline adventure park, many people reacted with a mixture of surprise and excitement.
In fact, according to officials, a social media post about the pending project received more views and shares than any other news item in the city’s history.
But on Tuesday night, a handful of Oldsmar residents appeared before the City Council to voice their concerns about the park, which will be located in the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve and is expected to be completed later this spring.
Oldsmar resident Brian Mahoney spoke to the Oldsmar City Council about the city’s zipline park on Tuesday.
“I’m here to ask some questions in regards to the zipline,” Brian Mahoney, who lives near the park, said.
“First is, how did you inform the residents…of your plans to build the zipline?”
When Mahoney was told that the item was listed on prior council agendas, he went on to question numerous aspects of the project, including safety, liability and parking issues; where the proceeds from the park would go; how often the facility would be inspected and by whom; and the impact the park could have on property values.
“I’m concerned this may remove us from being a nice community that you want to raise your kids in, where you come to work and play, and we’re shifting to something else,” Mahoney said.
“I think you need to consider reevaluating where you’re going with this…because we’re taking away the small town feel, and I don’t want it turning into a tourist trap.”
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
Mayor Doug Bevis was quick to respond to Mahoney’s points.
“I don’t think that was ever the intention of the council,” Mayor Bevis said.
“I think the intent of the council was to A, showcase our community. I think we’re very proud of it, and I’m not ashamed to say that.”
“The other thing is, I think our intent is to actually improve the value of people’s homes by improving the quality of life that people experience in Oldsmar,” he added. “Old may be in our name, but we’re anything but old…and we would do anything but diminish values.”
Bevis’s fellow council members concurred with the mayor.
“No matter where we do anything within the city, there is going to be some residential impact that we try to minimize,” Vice Mayor Gabby McGee said, adding there’s an additional safety factor with the adventure park because patrons need to provide identification in order to use the facility.
“I understand your concerns, and I think we all do,” Council member Eric Seidel said. “But a lot of the issues that you brought up, we discussed during the process we went through.”
Oldsmar City Council member Eric Seidel discusses the city’s zipline park with resident Brian Mahoney during the Oldsmar City Council meeting on March 1, 2016.
Seidel did agree that the method of notifying residents affected by such projects needs to improve, and he conceded that speed bumps may be necessary at the preserve in order to control the traffic back there.
“I think you raise some good points,” Seidel said to Mahoney.
Shortly after a couple more residents came forward and voiced similar concerns about the park—one woman called it a potential hangout for child molesters—the council thanked them for their input and assured everyone that all the aspects of the project had been well thought out.
An aerial adventure park, featuring five ziplines, is scheduled to be installed at Oldsmar’s Mobbly Bayou Preserve this spring.
“I appreciate all your concerns,” Mayor Bevis said. “But we didn’t do this without any thought about the things you mentioned.”
After the meeting, the mayor expounded on his position.
“I think we addressed a lot of their concerns,” he told Oldsmar Connect. “Like with any park, you can’t control everything. With any public project, there’s a risk. And we feel this is a measured risk.”
“The people elected us as representatives of the city to use our best judgment when it comes to issues like this,” Bevis added. “In this case, we felt the park’s value to the community outweighed the concerns.”