Hollywood neighbors fed up as site of old golf course becomes eyesore

Dozens of trees downed by Hurricane Irma have been left to rot

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Neighbors in Hollywood say the old Sunset Golf Course has become an eyesore after the new developer has left dozens of chopped trees to rot on the property. 

The city has cited the owner for failing to remove trees damaged by Hurricane Irma in a timely manner. Fines were set to kick in on June 30, but city has granted the company, GI Sportz, an extension.

Commuters on northbound Interstate 95 can see the mess just before the Sheridan Street exit.
Kathy Caputo lives a few doors down from the private property in the 2700 block of Johnson Street.

“I’m sad the trees are gone, but there are rules,” Caputo said, adding the logs and overgrown brush need to be cleaned up.

Lately, she’s been in a long fight with GI Sportz, which wants to bring a paintball themed open space sports park to the land. She worries if the land is developed, her neighborhood would be at greater risk for flooding.

“It puts everything around us at risk if it’s developed.” Caputo said. 

GI Sportz, which sells paintball equipment, and its CEO Richmond Italia could not be reached for comment.

And even the slowly progressing cleanup has been problematic for neighbors. Two weeks ago, a backhoe caught fire while crews tried to beat a city deadline. And a wood chipper on site has been shooting wood chunks onto neighboring homes.

“These are huge, somebody could’ve gotten killed with one of them, and they make me nervous,” said homeowner Laurie Jablo.

Jablo said she’s also seen a spike in raccoons and snakes in her backyard because of the clearing of the field.

She actually supports the change at the end of her block.

“We wanted the paintball place here. I believe in bringing young families. We talked about having botanical gardens off to the side where we would still have a runoff for the water,” Jablo said.

But not everyone is sold on the concept. Many houses in the area sport “no development” signs. Hollywood is even in talks to possibly buy the property from GI Sportz.

“We are a quiet residential neighborhood and we want to remain a quiet residential neighborhood and paintball has no place,” Caputo said.

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