West End golfers and residents protest rezoning application from developer

More than three dozen golfers and residents of West End, Tioga and neighboring developments marched along Newberry Road in front of the now defunct West End Golf course on Tuesday to get the word out that they are against the development of the 75-acre green space.
Golfer Barbara Mitchell was handing out t-shirts to participants. She said her favorite hole at West End is No. 8 which is right outside her back door. She’s been playing the course since 1970.
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Mitchell said her husband Stan Mitchell, who was the athletic director at Santa Fe College, helped set up the adult education program that taught local golfers the game. He passed in 2008 but Barbara continues to play the sport they enjoyed together.

Paul Hornby of Newberry has been playing the course for 30 years and he helps get the next generation involved in the sport.

“It’s a quicker round, a shorter course, has a great driving range, and it hones your short game,” Hornby said about why he misses playing at West End Golf Club.

Hornby helps out with the Gator Junior Golf Association which is made up of players from kindergarten to high school ages. There are 200 kids enrolled in the program and Hornby said that when they start up again in two weeks they’ll miss being able to use the West End location.

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Retired teacher and counselor Debbie Pelosi said she has lived at West End for more than 20 years on the 7th fairway. Two weeks ago the engineering firm hired by the potential developer Sayed Moukhtara planted stakes throughout the course marking where the property for 487 residential units would begin.

“When I saw the survey stakes it’s very disturbing,” said Pelosi who pointed to the edge of the parking lot to show that the distance was about the same, 30 feet from her house. Pelosi said Moukhtara’s argument that the course was under-utilized was not accurate. Her nephew and father played there because it was the only night course around.

Other residents say the last course manager let it run down and failed to maintain the property, which forced players to look for better course experiences. Peter Min, the current owner of the parcels and a realtor with Pepine Realty, has left the course unmanicured since it shut down in 2019.

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The weeds have grown up to 8 feet tall and have led to calls to Alachua County code enforcement by people living along the course.

Nicole Bodlak lives across the street from the course in Tioga and stood holding a “Honk For The Green” sign. Cars and trucks passing by did just that.

“There’s too much development going on in our neighborhood,” she said. “It needs to stop. We need green space.”

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