OKEECHOBEE — The city council embraced the concept of the Guy Harvey Outpost project and began discussions on a fire tax for city residents at their regular meeting Tuesday night.
Mark Ellert made a presentation to the council about the Guy Harvey Outpost Resort and Marina on Lake Okeechobee.
Mr. Ellert said the objective of the project is to create the best destination in south Florida. It will be angler centric with something for all skills and ages of fishermen. “We’d like to marry the resort and campground experience.”
Shows and festivals, bass tournaments, and road and bike races are on the table. They’d like to partner with the county to better utilize Scott Driver as well.
“The city and county should consider this as their destiny and create a great work of art here,” he added.
He outlined the project again which includes two sections for an RV resort, a boat barn with 120 slips, an outfitters shop, a new fuel dock, future docks and marina tiki bar.
Mr. Ellert said the river resort is the key to the equation with a 20,000 square foot lodge, seven pool cabins, 11 marina cabins, and 37 riverfront cabins. They plan to have about 200 units that are considered transitory, and build additional park models over the next five years.
The sports club will include tennis, shuffleboard, pickle ball, and other facilities.
The plan for the building that currently houses Lightsey’s Restaurant includes two sections for the outfitters shop and general retail.
A 12,000 square foot lodge will include a riverside grill and anglers bar.
The hotel suite cabins will be first class with one and two bedroom units.
Water will be a key component along with a lazy river experience for all ages.
“You can’t have a resort without fun pool experiences,” he added.
Mr. Ellert also emphasized it is not a private resort and is open to the community to enjoy the amenities. The goal for opening is July 4, 2017.
Councilman Dowling Watford asked about fees for membership and if it will be opens to the public.
Mr. Ellert said they plan to be make the public happy and keep the boat ramps open to the public. Eventually they will have 450 RV pads and should be fully occupied in season with about 1,500 people on the property.
“Our goal is to make sure the facility is used, the guests are happy and the public is happy.”
Mr. Ellert said they are working on an airboat project in Glades County in Buckhead Ridge. A meeting was planned on Friday, Oct. 23, to discuss options.
Mr. Ellert said they’d like to help improve Scott Driver boat ramps and don’t expect to impose any kind of charge for the use of the boat ramps at Okee-Tantie.
Councilman Dowling Watford said he has heard a lot of positive feedback from the public for this project.
“This is a huge investment. The community is extremely excited and we appreciate your interest in Okeechobee.”
Mr. Ellert also said boat slip rentals and a boat storage facility are also planned. He said while the work is still being done the company is working as if they already are operating the resort.
The council also gave the go ahead to city attorney John Cook to develop a fire assessment. This is only the first step and does not mean the fire tax will be imposed.
Chairman of the Centennial Committee JD Mixon reported the City Heritage Festival was a tremendous event. A creative writing contest will accept entries until Nov. 13.
The City Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 4 and be named the Festival of Lights. City departments will hold open house, and Santa and Mz. Centennial will be in attendance. The city agreed to close Southeast Park Street between Southeast 2nd and Southeast 3rd Avenue, and Southeast 2nd Avenue between North and South Park Streets and a portion of Southeast 3rd Avenue between North and South Park Street on Dec. 4 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. to accommodate the Centennial Festival of Lights.
The council also voted to close a portion of Northwest 2nd Street between Northwest 3rd and Northwest 4th Avenue and a portion of Northwest 3rd Avenue between Northwest 2nd and Northwest 3rd Street, as well as a portion of Northwest 4th Avenue between Northwest 2nd and Northwest 3rd Avenue on Dec. 11 from noon until 11 p.m. for the Centennial Christmas Frolic.
The mayor presented a proclamation to city department heads to mark Oct. 18-24 as Florida City Government Week.
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News