Save the Dr. Phillips Forest!
4.5 acres of once-protected forestland in the heart of Dr. Phillips, Florida, is now in danger of being developed. This heavily-wooded patch of land and the adjacent park is known to local residents as the \"Dr. Phillips Forest.\" It is owned by the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation. The Foundation has kept the land (home to owls, turtles, raccoons, foxes, bullfrogs, rabbits, heron, squirrels and hawks with a river basin that feeds Spring Lake) safe from development since the 1970s. Now the Foundation is asking Orange County to rezone the property for office buildings. On the May 7 WFTV broadcast we heard that the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation believes a relocation of their main offices to this forest property would enhance it. Judging from the comments made over the past several days, the residents of this community agree that it\'s hard to enhance the perfection of nature. Attempting to prevent, through governmental or legal means, the Foundation from utilizing this property as office space is not the aim of appealing to the Foundation and the County Government. The goal is to see the Foundation choose to preserve the forest, as it is completely within their power to do so. To not tear down the forest, to not build on this land, to utilize previously constructed and now vacant office space, to repair and upgrade the park, to lease the land to the County for recreation - all of these options are within the Foundation\'s power to exercise. Jim Hinson, chairperson of the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation, has enumerated how the Foundation leases the land for the Little League field and the YMCA for $1 each per year, how the tennis courts and Spring Lake park are free to the community and how the Dr. Phillips Elementary and Fire Stations were built by the Foundation and given away to the County - all to the betterment and enrichment of the community. Surely the Dr. Phillips Forest is just as worthy of the Foundation\'s generosity, given the community\'s obvious attachment to the green space. It was evident that the Foundation is adamant about building their headquarters on this land. A compromise, however, has been proposed: take one acre of land for planned office space (the Foundation estimates it needs 10,000 square feet for its 22 employees) and leave the rest as forested land. Continue to voice your opinion through the petition -- your comments will be forwarded to the commissioners, Planning Department, the Foundation and other parties in light of next week\'s meeting.