Not if the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission doesn't want it to be.
Everglades Holiday Park is a popular spot for anglers, motorcyclists, duck hunters and tourists, who come by the busload to ride airboats and see alligators. Old Florida at its best, the park is open all the time and there is no fee to get in or use its boat ramps.
The 45-acre property is owned by Broward County, which leases it to the FWC. The FWC sublets it to a concessionaire, who gives the FWC a percentage of its annual profits. The concessionaire's lease runs until 2012.
The county wants the property back from the FWC so it can turn Holiday Park into a county park that is "up to Broward County standards," according to county parks and recreation director Bob Harbin.
What Harbin didn't say was the county also wants to cash in on the lucrative airboat tours. In 2006 the FWC got $400,000 from Holiday Park for basically doing nothing but being a middleman. The county got zip.
I've been told that the way the county's lease with the FWC is written, as long as the FWC has someone to sublet Holiday Park to, the lease stays in effect. So in 2012, if the FWC wants to sublet the park to the same concessionaire or a different one, there's nothing Broward County can do about it.
The FWC has been curiously silent about the matter. You'd think an agency that constantly moans about being strapped for cash wouldn't want to give up a significant chunk of free money.
Meanwhile, the county forges ahead. Its latest master plan for Holiday Park was unveiled Wednesday at a public forum in Davie.
The plan featured 100 parking spaces for tow vehicles and boat trailers and another parking lot that could accommodate 400 vehicles or 200 vehicles and trailers. All that parking means no more camping, which upset several of the 50 or so people who attended the forum. The plan also provides swamp buggy access and bank fishing areas.
The biggest question at the forum was if a county Holiday Park would remain open 24/7. Harbin insisted it would, but ultimately admitted that the county commission would have the final say. He said the plan would probably go before the commission in August.
From Staff and Wire Reports