Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis, city council members and other city, county and state officials came out for the zipline park groundbreaking ceremony at Mobbly Bayou Preserve on Thursday.
Officials from the City of Oldsmar and Empower Adventures pose for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the city’s new zipline aerial adventure park at Mobbly Bayou Preserve on Thursday, March 17, 2017.
Flanked by a pair of watchful owls and surrounded by acres of natural beauty, Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis, along with his fellow council members, ceremonially broke ground on the city’s new zipline adventure park on Thursday.
The morning ceremony at the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness preserve was also attended by officials from Empower Adventures, the company building the attraction, as well as representatives from Congressman Gus Bilirakis’, Senator Marco Rubio’s and Senator Bill Nelson’s offices, plus the Audubon Society of Clearwater.
An artist’s rendering of the zipline park’s towers. Credit: City of Oldsmar.
In describing the incoming park, which will feature five ziplines, a 100-ft. suspension bridge, and other adventure park elements, Bevis said he was happy with the fact that Oldsmar will be the first city in the Tampa Bay area to feature such an attraction.
“This is exciting,” the mayor told the group of roughly 30 that gathered on a warm and sunny morning at the preserve. “I know there’s been a little pushback on this recently, but we’re excited you decided to put this park in Oldsmar, where it will be the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay region.”
Following the mayor’s opening comments, Empower Adventures owner Dev Pathik spoke about his company’s newest project.
“Our mission is to create an incredible experience in a beautiful setting,” Pathik said. “When you zip across the water, something happens to each of us. It takes us past the most challenging experiences of our lives.”
Oldsmar residents and visitors will soon be able to get a birds-eye view of Mobbly Bayou Wilderniess preserve, thanks to the new aerial adventure zipline park.
Pathik referred to the construction of the new BMX Supercross track, the pending multi-million dollar mixed-use development in the downtown district, as well as the rumblings of bringing the Tampa Bay Rays to town as a few reasons why his company chose Oldsmar as the location for their third zipline park.
“It’s a dream come true, because Oldsmar really is a special place, and we’re honored to be a part of what you are doing here in the city,” he said.
Oldsmar officials also believe the zipline park is another example of the continued growth of the city, and contrary to some residents’ beliefs, they do not think the park is going to negatively impact the environment or the community.
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
“The environment is only great when people get to enjoy it,” Bevis said after the ceremony, adding, “There are probably more people here now than there will be during the park’s hours.
“Maybe we could’ve done a better job of sharing that aspect of it with the public,” he admitted. “But hopefully when the park is finished, they will see the sky is not falling and see that it’s not a bad thing, and, in fact, it should be a good thing for the community.”
Not surprisingly, Empower Adventure officials shared that opinion, and they were quick to point out the purpose of the park is to embrace the environment, not destroy it.
“The natural surrounding here at the preserve, the Environmental Education Center, the dog park and the kayak trails, all coincide with the ecological program we promise,” company founder Joe DeRing told Oldsmar Connect. “It’s what Empower Adventures is all about.”
Empower Adventures founder Joe DeRing gets a lesson in nature from representatives of the Audubon Society of Clearwater on Thursday.
DeRing went on to explain that the impact of the project be minimally invasive to the surroundings.
“The towers get situated in among the natural environment. We don’t even use large machinery to build them,” he said.
“Being invasive and destroying the natural environment defeats the whole purpose of our parks.”
As DeRing and others got a little nature lesson about the owls and other species of birds from the Audubon Society representatives, one environmental activist explained the unique partnership on this project.
“We’ve created a conservation partnership with Empower Adventures to work some of our conservation messages into the park’s curriculum,” Barbara Walker, director of the Audubon Society of Florida’s Gulf Coast chapter, said.
“I hope people can value that collaboration, because we have a seat at the table to be able to provide feedback whenever situations come up.”
“The bottom line is, we need to get people into our parks, and this project is definitely going to help do that.”
Oldsmar city council member Linda Norris poses with Audubon Society of Clearwater officials, and friends, at the zipline park groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.
At least one Oldsmar resident was on board with the plan.
“I think it’s a fantastic way to bring the community together,” Sharry Griner, who was riding her bike through the preserve during the ceremony, said.
“I think it’s cool, and it’s going to bring a lot more revenue and a lot more people looking for adventure to Oldsmar.”
Officials said work on the zipline park is expected to begin immediately, with a completion date tentatively scheduled for mid-May.
The separate, adventure park section has an opening date of around July 1.