A recently opened water attraction in Wimauma has made such a big splash that its owners want to stay open later in the evening.
The 5-acre lagoon of purified water is within Metro Development Group’s 192-acre residential project called Southshore Bay. It is east of US 301 and south of State Road 674 (Sun City Boulevard), south of Wimauma’s downtown.
In January, commissioners allowed the attraction — a water lagoon with kayaking, paddle boarding, water slides, obstacle course, open-air event space, bar and restaurant — to open to the general public. Current operating hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday, the developers asked commissioners for permission to extend the hours to 11 p.m. with the provision that the final three hours of operation would be exclusively for neighborhood residents and their guests. Alcohol sales also would continue until 11.
Daryl Everett, who lives in the community, told commissioners that residents pay a fee for the amenity, but currently can only use it simultaneously with the general public.
“That feels very unfair,” she said, noting that over the summer, residents must vacate the premises before sundown.
The public record attached to the agenda included 126 pages of form letters sent to commissioners from residents who also supported the expanded hours.
Commissioners, however, wondered about enforcement. The lagoon operator plans to administer water-proof hand stamps to non-residents and to begin towing cars from the visitor parking lot at 8:30 p.m.
“I’m afraid the residents are biting off something that’s going to be difficult to determine who’s a resident, who’s not and then for code enforcement to enforce this,” said Commissioner Mariella Smith.
Commission chairperson Kimberly Overman asked who would be doing the towing and where the impounded vehicles would be taken.
Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development Group, said the towing provision was considered a backstop measure to be used only if the outside public did not comply with the 8 p.m. closing.
“This is clearly something the residents want. I know it’s not going to be easy for code enforcement to enforce this, but I think it’s worth a shot,” said Commissioner Stacy White.
Commissioners approved the request on a 6-0 vote with Commissioner Harry Cohen absent.
The Southshore Bay lagoon is Metro Development’s Group’s second such amenity in the Tampa Bay region. The Epperson development in Wesley Chapel opened its lagoon, the first in the United States, in late 2018. Metro Development plans two additional lagoons at its Mirada and Angeline developments in Pasco County.
The bodies of water carry the trademarked name of Metro Lagoons by Crystal Lagoons®, but are referred to commonly and in Hillsborough public documents simply as Crystal Lagoons.