"We've got a bit of a hiccup now," assistant athletic director Chip Howard said last week, sounding as if he had a bone in his throat. He was still trying to digest the headline in the April 4 Gainesville Sun: GOLF COURSE GROWTH COULD CUT INTO WOODS. Not that he was surprised. At a recent meeting, members of the University of Florida Land, Vegetation and Lakes advisory committee had challenged the course-renovation plan because it called for wholesale clearing of the overgrown northwest corner of the property. Specifically, the committee wanted to spare several thousand wild trillium plants, which have established a colony in the junglelike tangle of pines and vines.
Trillium is a long-stemmed, three-leaf plant that grows to about 12 inches and blooms in the spring. "It's not an endangered species, but it's rare in Gainesville," says Howard. "We'd like to move the plants to a site south of the course and create a trillium bed that people could look at. If we can't, we'll have to redesign the course around the trillium." In the meantime university vice president Ed Poppell has asked Howard to present his course plans to a few other advisory panels, including the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, the Preservation of Historic Buildings and Sites Committee, and the Land Use Committee. "We've been aboveboard, and we're not trying to do anything unusual or damaging," says Howard. "We've got to tell our story."
Elsewhere on the permit front, consulting civil engineer Jay Brown has good news: The St. Johns River Water Management District has put the application for an amended water-use permit on the agenda for its May 8 board meeting. "The district has asked for more information," says Scot Sherman of Weed Golf Course Design, "but that's typical. We don't see any big hiccups"—that word again—"because we've abandoned our plan to build the maintenance building in the floodplain." Instead, the plan calls for the maintenance barn to be in the northwest corner. But that's where the trillium lives, and Land, Vegetation and Lakes would like the building moved again. Says a weary Sherman, "We've probably seen more surprises on this project than we've ever seen on a course restoration."