Bass Pro working on Okee-Tantie plans

OKEECHOBEE — Bass Pro is still working on plans for development of the Okee-Tantie recreation area, according to a report given at the March 14 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission.

County administrator Robbie Chartier said she met with a Bass Pro representative last week and saw some preliminary plans.

She said they have had some delays with permitting, which was not unexpected.

“They know the deadline is coming up,” she said, adding that the commissioners can expect to see something about Bass Pro on the agenda for their next meeting. She advised that Bass Pro may ask for another extension of their planning period.

The county has already given Bass Pro two extensions on the deadline to sign the final contract.

On Jan. 16, 2018, the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners officially signed the contract with Bass Pro to develop the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area. Bass Pro offered to pay the county $3 million, with $300,000 paid up front. Bass Pro was given nine months to develop plans for the site. If after that time Bass Pro determined the project is not viable, the county would keep the $300,000.

In September 2018, Bass Pro requested an extension to the due diligence period, and was given a three-month extension by the county commission. At the time Bass Pro cited concerns about the blue-green algae issues when asking for more time to review the project before making a final decision.

In January 2019, Bass Pro exercised their contract option for another three-month extension.

The first extension was at no charge. Bass Pro paid the county $100,000 for the second three-month extension of their due diligence period.

In other business at their March 14 meeting, county commissioners declined a request from Florida Department of Transportation to get involved with closing a driveway in the area of U.S. 441 S.E. near the intersection that FDOT plans to turn into a roundabout.

County Attorney John Cassels said the parking lot of the building that previously housed the Driver’s License Office has an exit on Southeast 18th Terrace. He said FDOT wants the county to pass a resolution to require that exit be closed. That parking lot will not be able to access S.E. 18th Terrace because the exit would be too close to the roundabout, said Mr. Cassels. He said FDOT will give the parking lot a new exit on U.S. 441 S.E.

Mrs. Chartier said the county commission has made it clear they do not support the roundabout plan and have asked FDOT to put a stop light at that intersection instead.

“We know they are going to put it in regardless of what the county wants,” said Chairman Terry Burroughs. He said he is not inclined to get the county involved in the parking lot exit issue. Commissioners Bryant Culpepper, Brad Goodbread and David Hazellief agreed. (Commissioner Kelly Owens was absent from the meeting.)

“Tell them to figure out their own stuff,” the chairman told the county attorney. “We’re not going to pass a resolution.”

In other business, traffic calming devices will be installed on Southwest 67th Drive and Southwest Ninth Street next week.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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