BROOKSVILLE — Construction has begun on the long-awaited TreeUmph! Adventure Course east of Brooksville.
The course, incorporating tall pines and grand oaks on the property, is expected to be a slightly larger version of the owner's first course in Bradenton.
It will offer the same number of designated routes for customers, but with more "games," which is the term TreeUmph! uses for features such as zip lines, rope bridges and net ropes, said Kathy Corr, a co-owner of the company building the course, CSC Holding Group LLC.
It will be "unique to Florida," Corr said, partly because of the tall pines that will serve as launching points for the obstacles and the grand oaks that adventurers will climb and pass through on zip lines and bridges.
"There's very little clearing; mostly just trimming," Corr said. "The trees are awesome. We want to keep them. They're huge."
The project has been criticized for the financial incentive package it received from the county and the delay in starting the project, which was approved by the Hernando County Commission two years ago.
The incentives include up to $650,000 in site-preparation costs — more than $120,000 of which the company has spent so far — and two years' use of the property for the nominal fee of $1 per year, said Valerie Pianta, the county's economic development manager.
The commission approved it because of its ability to provide full-time jobs and the kind of outdoor enthusiasts the county is trying to attract.
"I think it's going to be quite a marvelous attraction for our area," Pianta said.
She said she never doubted the project would be completed because she knew TreeUmph! was working on "stuff you can't see."
That included lining up builders, completing the design and receiving permits from several agencies, including the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Corr said.
"It's standard stuff for this kind of business," she said.
The venue will offer several courses, depending on customers' comfort with heights and level of physical fitness.
Besides rope bridges and zip lines, the obstacles include swinging log bridges and a "Leap of Faith," which allows adventurers to swing Tarzan-style into a rope net.
Corr said she is confident that TreeUmph! can attract business, even after the opening of a similar attraction, Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park near Dade City, because of the unique site on Cedar Lane and the large area from which it will draw customers — throughout the Tampa Bay area and Central Florida.
TreeUmph! could open as early as mid August if construction is not delayed by the rainy season, Corr said.
The cost of an adult ticket — for customers 12 or older who can meet the height requirement — will be $54.95 per day. Children ages 9 through 11 will be able to enter for $36.95, and the charge for younger children will be $12.95 for the first hour, with reduced rates for additional hours.
Completing an adult course will take between three and four hours, Corr said, "and when they're done they'll be exhausted. They'll be ready to go home and sleep."
Another TreeUmph! course is being planned in Largo.
Contact Dan DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ddewitttimes.