It’s ‘game on’ for Lake O treehouse restoration

BELLE GLADE — Much to the delight of sportsmen, the Lake Okeechobee Tree House Rebuild campaign on Facebook and GoFundMe hit its goal within four days of when “GatorMike” Goyette and other airboaters started it last week.

He reported on the dedicated fundraiser pages Thursday, Aug. 1, that there were 22 donors plus outside contributors who will be bringing and contributing materials and manpower to the outpost on Kreamer Island Aug. 11 for the planned restoration day activities. (It’s called the “Lake Okeechobee Tree House Restoration Project” on GoFundMe.)

“WOW!” he posted. “Mind blown! We are officially over the goal of $2,561 in four days! We have the money to replace all 250 deck boards!” A $100 contribution from Dale Dye Jr. put the campaign over the top Thursday morning.

The island is mostly dry presentLY, with the lake level over 11.5 feet. During an airboat tour of the lake organized by the City of Belle Glade in November 2017, however, Kreamer Island was submerged. It was not yet two months after Hurricane Irma caused indirect storm surge and stirred up the muck and then eventually filled the lake to nearly 17.5 feet. During the subsequent persistent high lake levels until the winter and spring of 2018 and 2019, damage to the treehouse structure accelerated and the decking became unsafe.

Mr. Goyette is psyched, now. He went on to say in his post Aug. 1 that there was still just over a week before he was going to order the materials. So he took a little poll and asked, “Do I shut the GoFundMe account down or do I leave it open and allow for additional money to be donated?” In fact, they did end up with more money and now will buy trash cans, grills, a new flag and flagpole, plus picnic tables.

Since then, there have been more updates. On Sunday, Aug. 4, one week before the rebuilding event, GatorMike said there was another donation to the campaign that restored running water to the place.

This photo was taken Nov. 2, 2017. Kreamer Island was nearly completely underwater, less than two months after Hurricane Irma roared through the region.
Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker

“Years ago someone put a well in at the tree house. Since then the pipes were broken, and no one ever looked into fixing it. After creating this page, Jay Lawrence Well Drilling from LaBelle came out today and within five minutes had water flowing again. How awesome is this! We are going to raise it up and build a small deck around it. Clean water is now available back at the tree house!”

The pieces came together for Sunday’s work this past weekend.
“We have secured all the required material … Now we need the volunteer manpower!” he announced Sunday. He was requesting anyone able to donate their time, skill of use of wood tools.

Go to “Lake Okeechobee Tree House Rebuild” on Facebook to learn more.

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