Sorry Florida, you keep the bog!
The Surf Ranch Florida Is Declared Dead
The WSL, citing 'unforeseen challenges', pulls plug on surf park development.
The WSL's plan to spread surfing inland has suffered a major setback, as today the construction of a massive “Disneyland for surfers” in Palm Beach County was declared, officially, dead.
The project began in 2017 when the WSL purchased an 80-acre lot for $6.5 million. Approval for the site, named Surf Ranch Florida, was granted by the county commissioner's office and was slated to include “a 13.9-acre surf lagoon area and a total of 71,306 square feet of buildings such as the Surf House Clubhouse, a learning center, board room and training center.” The WSL purported the site would bring in 83,000 visitors a year and provide hundreds of new jobs for local residents.
The project met immediate opposition from local chapters of the Sierra Club and Audubon Society, which claimed the site would create “additional traffic, noise, light and possible water pollution to the Pine Glades Natural Area — 6,700 acres of protected wetlands.” "I think what's being created here is a fantasy," said Scott Zucker, vice president of the Audubon Society of the Everglades.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay claimed the surf park would have a minimal environmental impact. "In my opinion, I would rather see a big hole filled with water than a big hole filled with fuel tanks," she said.
With all the i's dotted and t's crossed, including a rezoning of the land from industrial to commercial, the WSL had only to break ground and begin construction. Which, according to Kelly Slater, would begin in 2018 and be finished by 2019.
Unfortunately for the WSL, it seems their due diligence was not quite done, as they've come to discover that building on a parcel of swamp-adjacent property presents certain difficulties.
In a public statement released earlier today by the WSL, the organization stated, “The WSL is disappointed to confirm our decision to cancel the development of the wave basin planned for West Palm Beach, Florida.The nature of this site, including the extremely high water table, exposed unforeseen challenges that made the decision around this unique project clear. These projects are complex and in many ways without precedent, and we have learned important lessons in this process.” But it's not all bad. The WSL stills owns the land and that can surely be put to profitable use. Perhaps with more Florida-centric attractions. Like meth labs, or pitbull fighting. Maybe a mosquito farm?
In any case, surf fans can rest assured that the WSL has a business model in place. Saddling a company with a multi-million dollar parcel of muck without a creating a contingency plan would be, simply, absurd.