West End golfers, homeowners, fans of green space set to picket against rezoning

West End resident and avid golfer Susie Prewitt likes to tell the story of the hole in one she got at West End Golf course. Prewitt, who just celebrated her 78th birthday, said she has been challenged by the course for more than 30 years. 
 
“It was five years ago, and it was hole 18,” Prewitt said. “I hit the ball. And it went up in the air, it was very pretty and it came down.

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“We got up to the green and I said ‘where’s my ball? It’s not on the green.’ And then we looked in the hole and it was in the hole!”
Prewitt said she worked for many years at the course which closed almost two years ago. 
Now, the fate of the 75-acre green space that is zone as Recreational, rests in the hands of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners who will eventually hear from the residents, golf course and environmental experts, and their lawyer. The Friends of West End group is preparing for battle against developer Sayed Moukhtara and civil engineering firm JBrown Professional Group. The course is up for sale listed for $6.25 million by owner Peter Min and under contract by Moukhtara pending the approval of the land use amendment and zoning change. 
The property sits abandoned and unkept with 7-foot tall weeds growing along golf cart pathways which has recently led to complaints to County code enforcement.
Members of the Friends of West End have spent the past few months meeting  to strategize their platform, writing letters to various media outlets and to the BOCC.
The potential developer’s conceptual master plan titled “Tara Club West End” includes 40, 50, and 60-foot wide residential lots, a 20-foot wide single family townhouse lot, and a multi-family residential building. 
JBrown and Moukhtara have submitted a rezoning application and moved forward by holding on July 23rd a required “Neighborhood Workshop,” that drew more than 300 comments and a hundred viewers all in opposition of a rezoning change that would change the existing Planned Development, Land Use Recreation to  Proposed Land Use Low Density Residential 1-4 and Single Family Residential 1-4.
The next step in the rezoning application requires the BOCC to weigh in on the Comprehensive Plan  amendment and then the rezoning will be considered.
The Friends of West End are now wanting to inform more of the public and be seen and heard.
On Tuesday (Sept. 1st) starting at 7:30 a.m., they are inviting anyone who believes the recreational space should be preserved to come out, get a free t-shirt (for the first 30 people to join them).

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On Saturday, West End homeowners, veteran golfers and best friends Archer Von Louda, 74, Masuma Downie, 79, Stephanie Phillips, 80, Susie Prewitt, 78, Linda Whitley, 73 and Maggie Viele, 69 spent three hours crafting signs that will send the message to passersby as they march from Tioga Town Center to the North Florida Regional West End ER.
Archer borrowed bins of markers from her grandchildren and Phillips hosted the event at her home. 
Some of the signs read, “Keep it green, No Rezoning,” and “Keep Zone Green.” Some signs will refer to the group’s gofundme account that is covering the cost of a lawyer and hiring experts to state their case.
Downie, who plays golf several times a week at Meadowbrook and the University of Florida course, was working on signs that read, “Green Is Good.”
Downie owns two homes adjacent to the West End course that she said was a challenging one. “The course is not an easy course,” she said. “The hardest hole is No. 4, a par five. The shortest  is just under 198 yards. 
This group of golfers shared photos they have taken over the the decades they have played together and reminisced about the tournaments and events.
Phillips made a sign with a drawing of Kermit the Frog that reads, “It’s not easy staying green,”  a play on the Kermit song “It’s not easy being green.”
Phillips is also in charge of keeping the books on donations to the cause via gofundme and through checks and cash donations from people all over the country who have either played on the course at one time or heard about the course’s possible demise. 
Archer mentioned that there are several memorials for dedicated golfers who loved golfing at West End. There is a tree, a rock marker, and even a sand trap named after golfers, she said.
To follow the efforts of Friends of West End on Facebook click here.

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