Florida City Eyes RV Park on Peace River Banks
What began as an idea to bring a recreational vehicle park to Florida's Fort Meade has bloomed into a proposed outdoor park along the Peace River with an equestrian center, a driving range for golfers and a replica of the original fort that gave the city its name, the Lakeland Ledger reported.
"We were looking for ways to attract people to Fort Meade, and we talked about an RV park," said City Manager Fred Hilliard. "We have all this land along the Peace River, and one thing led to another."
At this point, the concept is little more than an idea on paper, he said. There are no plans to fund the venture, nor has the city commission signed off on the concept. But there's enough interest in the plan to begin identifying funding options and seeking support from the Fort Meade community, Hilliard said.
"Those will be the next steps," he said, "but you have to start somewhere."
The park, tentatively called the Historic Fort Meade Outpost, would be built where the Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Center is now, on U.S. 98 east near the city limits. The existing center includes a open pavilion, restrooms, a playground and a boat launch on the river.
Hilliard said the city owns 230 acres that hug the river south of U.S. 98, and the potential is tremendous.
The city hired consultants to draft a conceptual plan outlining where elements in the park could be built. They located the replica fort at the entrance, and designed a 105-site RV park just south of that. The golf, equestrian and fishing areas are further south along the Peace River, according to the plan.
Alan Rayl, a Bartow engineering consultant hired for the project, said the concept for the RV park allows it to be built in two phases and incorporates the terrain of the area.
City commissioners gave Hilliard the green light to pin down cost estimates and investigate ways to fund the project. He said recreation grants are a first step. The project could be built in phases, which would help manage costs.
"The whole idea is to draw people to Fort Meade," Hilliard said. "What we have here is old Florida, and you don't see that too much anymore. But nobody knows it's here, and we need to bring people in so they'll discover what we've got."