The owners of TreeUmph! Adventure Course in Brooksville decided to close the park on Monday Aug. 20, 2018. The closure of TreeUmph! was discussed briefly at the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
County Administrator and Economic Development Director Len Sossamon remarked, “I’ve reached out personally to the owners.” He explained that the county is working with owners, Kathy and Aaron Corr, in order to remedy the situation. The Corrs own a similar adventure course in Bradenton. They stated that the Bradenton attraction is carrying the Brooksville course and can no longer continue to do so.
TreeUmph! off of Cedar Lane in Brooksville, got a rough start despite a healthy economic incentive package from the county. They were planning to open last summer, but plans were thwarted by hurricane Irma, which took down many trees on the property that were incorporated into the adventure course.
According to Sossamon TreeUmph! has met with potential investors – some who are local business people. Sossamon mentioned that he found a potential lending institution for an investment loan.
“We’ve got the work in process to help them. They said they are committed to trying to save it because they love the course here. It’s not just a cookie cutter course. The one down south in Bradenton has more artificial structures whereas this one here uses monstrous trees. We’re working with them,” said Sossamon.
“If there’s money to be made, investors are going to invest,” said Chairman Champion.
The thing that frustrates me is that when you open a business, you better anticipate losing money the first three years. To be open less than a year and say ‘Well the other one’s carrying it,’ well of course it is. It’s new it’s going to take awhile,” Champion asserted.
“It’s not up to the taxpayers to prop up for profit businesses,” he said and added, “I wish them well. I hope they open back up.”
TreeUmph’s $650,000 incentive package from the county included a rent payment of $1 for the first two years. The plan was for TreeUmph! to repay that $650,000 in incentive money via its lease. After they repaid the lease, they would be able to purchase the land, appraised at $306,447 (prior to the project buildout), for $100.
The year-three rent payments of $4,000 per month commenced on March 26, 2017. Sossamon stated that their payments are current through the end of July 2018. Following Hurricane Irma the Coors requested their $4000 payment per month be deferred until the end of September 2018, with 2% interest. County Commissioners did not approve the payment deferral. Hurricane cleanup delayed the park opening from September to December 2017.
“We did incentivize them. They were actually buying the land and did not owe the county any money- they were paid up through the end of July. When this board authorizes an incentive package for each new business or each expanding business, it’s a performance based incentive if you will. They either create the number of jobs and maintain the number of jobs for the prescribed time frame or else they have to payback. We’ve only had a couple that have had to do that,” said Sossamon about the incentives.