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Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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Ecological issues stall Sunwest wakeboard park

ARIPEKA - A private developer wants to build a cable-skiing facility at the proposed Sunwest park site in Hudson. Snags with environmental permits for expanding a channel to provide gulf access from the park could stall the project worth an estimated $1 million. The expanded channel and the proposed park are part of the same project. The developer, Patrick Panakos, a part-owner of the Orlando-based Wake Park Project, said he would like to begin construction this fall. Some lease details remain to be resolved in the public-private partnership with Pasco County.
Developers welcomed representatives of Ronix, a wakeboard manufacturing company in Washington state, to the site on former mine property last month. Ronix shot footage at Sunwest for promotional materials that could be distributed worldwide. "They absolutely loved it," Panakos said of Ronix executives' reaction to the site. "It will go global to every wakeboard retailer worldwide," Panakos said about a Ronix brochure to come in 2013. The brochure could prominently feature photos taken at Sunwest. Panakos' firm has developed cable-skiing rails and artificial pools for events like Wakestock Canada, Wakestock England, the Pro Wakeboarding Tour, the Red Bull Depth Charge, X-Games pool jam and more. The latest project took Panakos to the Camsur Watersports Complex on Luzon in the Philippines. A cable-water skiing and wakeboarding facility would be a perfect fit on a huge lake at the proposed new county park, Commissioner Jack Mariano said. "Wakeboard has been growing in the last 10 years, a lot faster than other sports," Panakos said. The appeal of cable water parks is easy to understand, Panakos said. There is no need for expensive boats, perhaps costing $40,000 or more, to pull skiers or wakeboarders. The cable railing system takes the place of the boat. "With cable parks, $20 gets you a pass" to try skiing or wakeboarding, Panakos added. Teens especially complain about nothing to do in West Pasco, Mariano said. The water park and beaches at the lake at the Hudson park site could change that. People can spend money here instead of going to other beaches in the region, Mariano said.
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