Largo residents push back on sports complex plans over traffic congestion concerns

Some neighbors are pushing back against plans for a new sports complex on top of an old landfill in Largo. Developers said it would have a $75 million economic impact to the area, but people who live nearby worry it’ll mean major traffic congestion

Despite pushback, the City of Largo is moving forward with plans to sell city property for a new recreation complex, leaving it up to voters to have the final say. 

"There's a lot of concerns, and it's very crowded here already, and we just feel like it's not a good spot for this," Largo resident Jill Shafer said.

In a 4-2 vote, Largo City Commissioners approved an ordinance to add a referendum to the November ballot which will ask voters if they're for or against selling city-owned land.

The 87-acre property in question is the site of an old landfill near East Bay Drive and Highland Avenue in Largo. Porter Development LLC wants to buy the land from the city and build 170,000 square-foot recreation complex.

"Sports complexes are all very good, great for families, but it's where it is. It's in between East Bay and Olmstead, which is a huge senior community," Largo resident Jay Sewell said.

Tuesday night, one-by-one dozens of residents took to the podium to voice their opposition to the plans. Some residents are on board for a new rec complex, but against the planned location which borders The Largo Central Park Natural Preserve.

"I really would like to see them redesign some of it if it gets pushed through to accommodate everybody," Shafer said.

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The complex would include up to 40 pickleball courts, 16 volleyball courts and a massive crystal clear public lagoon, where people can rent paddleboards and kayaks. It would also have a rock climbing wall and family arcade.

If residents approve the sale on the November ballot it would simply allow the city to sell the land. The city would still have to come up with a purchasing agreement and development plans which would be subject to more public hearings.

"I just think they need to be responsible with whatever they're doing," Shafer said.

While it's a major first step toward a new sports complex, there is still much work that'll need to be done to actually make it happen.