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Offshore resort is an idea that won't float

Here's something I don't find myself saying often.

New Port Richey City Council member Tom Finn and I, sort of, had the same idea.

Mine, of course, was about 20 years ago and born of way too much scotch at a New Port Richey nightclub back in the days when conspicuous consumption of alcohol, lots of alcohol, was still considered socially acceptable.

Finn's was born at the place in his mind where many of his ideas, some of them whackier than mine, are born _ a place I don't want to visit.

But we have both thought, at different times, of the concept of an offshore resort as a tourist attraction in the Gulf of Mexico off Pasco County.

When I had the conversation, I was talking to a friend of mine involved in banking, well, savings and loans. And this was during a time when S&Ls were about as well regulated by our government as drug traffic is by Peru's.

So it is no big surprise that the conversation turned to the 3-mile limit beyond which most U.S. laws don't apply (a lot of S&L guys back then were probably thinking of getting beyond the law, and some of them made it) and what we could do there.

I hasten to interject here that Finn's idea for a floating artificial island gulf resort doesn't involve anything illegal. Neither did ours, really, but the idea of a sort of giant floating speakeasy where people could relax with their favorite quasivictimless vices _ sort of a Las Vegas without all the sand _ appealed.

There were no gambling boats in Florida back then, no Seminole Bingo, very few topless bars _ not even cable television. There wasn't a state lottery nor was there a lingerie modeling shop in sight. Pasco was desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to figure out how to keep a topless hamburger stand from opening.

In short, it was the kind of puritanical world to which some wish we could return and from which many wanted to, at least temporarily, escape.

Several things kept our idea from becoming a reality:

We sobered up.

We didn't have enough personal credit between us to buy a candy bar.

The idea was deemed so bad that even his prereform S&L wouldn't touch it.

My boss asked me what I was smoking.

We couldn't figure out how to run such a thing without conspiring to break the law while we were in the United States, for which we could go to jail. (Talking, without an affirmative act toward breaking the law is not a conspiracy, so far, but stay tuned.)

Our wives wouldn't let us.

But Finn's idea for a legal resort, with a retired cruise ship used as a hotel, even if it is a little underthunk on things like sewage disposal and security, had some of the same romantic appeal.

It's his idea of what may be done with the tourist tax dollars other than a (yawn!) tennis venue or youth athletic fields and, I frankly, would like to see something at least as colorful or daring in the thought processes being applied to the question. But the truth is I probably won't.

The tourist tax dollars, by law, have to be spent on something designed to draw people from outside the county into it to spend more dollars so we can tax them some more. The athletic field thing, some contend, won't fly because it would wind up being used mostly by county residents.

The offshore resort thing, although it serves as a great example of thinking outside the box (a Finn trademark if he ever had one) has too many logistical and procedural holes in it to really get off the ground and into the water.

Tennis probably really isn't going to catch on in my neck of the woods unless it somehow involves monster trucks, thong costumes and NASCAR-type promotions, and, with a few notable exceptions, probably will draw more folks from New Tampa than from Dade City or Shady Hills. So my guess is that's where the tourist tax bucks will go.

I hate it when rationality prevails.

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