Horizon West holds public meeting on proposed surf park

Members of the Horizon West community had the chance to hear from the project’s developers and ask questions regarding the proposed surf park in their community.

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Even though Horizon West sits at least an hour away from the Atlantic Ocean, residents soon may be able to catch a few waves right in the community.

Ocean Sports Development is seeking to build a 43-acre surf park at 7902 Avalon Road, a site formerly used as a landfill at the corner of Avalon and Schofield roads.

The project has been in development for a few years, and Ocean Sports Development representatives met with residents for the first time during a community meeting hosted by Orange County Government Feb. 21 at Hamlin Elementary.

“We’re really excited about this project and delighted to be here and meet with you all and answer some of the questions you might have, but also to start the process of communication,” said Greg Lee, a representative of Ocean Sports Development. “These meetings are all about making sure that we’re meeting with you frequently and providing you with opportunities to let us know how you feel about this and give us some feedback. … (We want to) make sure that by the time we do get to a public hearing that you all will feel like this is something that you’ve seen multiple times and you’ve had a chance to really understand what kind of project this is going to be.” 

According to developers, the park’s main attraction will be a surf pool surrounded by a sand beach and pedestrian promenade boardwalk. It also will include retail and restaurant space that offers a beach atmosphere. 

According to documents submitted to Orange County in December, the pool will measure 850 feet by 475 feet and the beach will be 80 feet. Those documents also note three volleyball courts and a 27,350-square-foot athletic facility. The park will include two retail buildings at 19,950 square feet each, two tiki bars, some smaller retail buildings, a restaurant and a picnic pavilion.

The plans also show 585 parking spaces, 20 handicap spaces and 14 bus spaces.

Resident Keith Stephenson said he is excited about the proposal.

“There’s so many reasons to be in favor of this project,” he said. “A park like this is not only perfect for local businesses and the kids and adults in this area that are looking for more entertainment, but there’s also a lot of surfers — like myself — (who) have to travel to North Florida or the East Coast to surf. In addition to that, this area is the destination capital of the world … and there are going to be people who are interested in carving out a day or half-day to come over to our community to go to this park, and that is going to help our local economy. When you have a productive business like this, especially in sort of this type of suburban area, it’s going to drive more retail businesses, it’s going to help restaurants do well, and I think it’s going to help increase property values. But mainly, I’m for this because it’s just a fun and clean source of entertainment.” 

As a surfer, Stephenson also is excited about the proprietary wave-generating technology the company is touting, which promises to provide surfers with a unique experience. 

“Their wave-generating technology is substantial, because as a surfer, you’re relying on so many different variables to create perfect and consistent waves,” he said. “With what they’re saying is that they’re going to be able to manipulate not just the bottom of the pool but (also) the wave itself (which) is sort of the game-changer. … Not only will they be able to make consistently great waves, they’ll also be able to create different types of waves.”

This type of consistency is something surfers long for in the ocean, and according to Stephenson, it will attract surfers from the coast inland to the park. 

“I would say surfers from the coast would absolutely come over here for this park,” he said. “Nothing can replace surfing in the ocean, but because of all the dynamics that go into a good day of surfing, the opportunity to have that all happen at the beach is so difficult and so rare, that surfers are going to come over here for the quality and certainty of the wave. … But when there is a swell like that at the beach, there’s nothing that replaces paddling out and surfing there. It’s hard to replace the feeling of seeing a dolphin or a manta ray jump or seeing a spinner shark or just being out there with nature. Nothing replaces that, but this park is certainly going to be a great addition for surfers everywhere.”

Although there was a generally positive attitude toward the project, the community did have some concerns. Chief among them was traffic.

“Orange County does not require dedicated turn lanes,” Horizon West resident Laurie Forrester said. “If you don’t require dedicated turn lanes, what happens? Traffic backs up. … On their renderings, their turn lanes did not appear to be but maybe nine or 10 cars deep. So once nine or 10 cars pull into that lane to make that turn off of Avalon Road, everybody else is going to have to stop because they will not have an opportunity until the cars in front of them go.”

Forrester said the county’s traffic policies aren’t the best match for the area and don’t take into consideration unique factors, such as alternate rush hours caused by Walt Disney World.

Ocean Sports Development representatives said a definitive construction start date has not been set.

“Once we get our approvals, engineering and permitting, that’s something that’s going to take several months,” Lee said. “We would anticipate getting that completed maybe in early 2025 and hopefully start construction in 2025.”



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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