Imagine gliding along treetops 40 or 60 feet above ground.
Talk about as the crow flies.
City council members listened to a presentation about installing the county's first zipline tour in Sand Key Park by Dev Pathik of Clearwater Canopy Tours at its work session meeting earlier this week.
“It’s an environmental science experience,” Pathik said. “By the time you are done you would have learned a lot about our area.”
Pathik, of Clearwater Canopy Tours and Sports Facility Advisory, also talked about the project to the county commission last year. He said he did not realize he also should talk with the city about the project.
The county is interested in the zipline tour but needed to be sure that it would be buildable the way Pathik described and advised him to talk with the Sand Key Civic Association and the city.
Pathik described the tour not as a 60 mph amusement ride, but rather a two hour tour that crawls along cables strung on posts throughout the park.
“You are moving yourself through the trees more like a Costa Rican researcher," Pathik said.
A tower about 60 to 75 feet tall would be the start point. Pathik said a 25-foot tall spoil mound, made from the nearby retention lake bed, would serve as the ideal place.
The tour would have four to five zip lines and walking bridges and the main tower where the tour starts. Pathik said tours would leave about every 45 minutes and take about 10 people on 10 tours a day.
He said the cost would be similar to parasailing, about $45 to $65.
The cost to build the experience is close to $1 million, Pathik said.
The county is interested in pursuing the project according to a letter from Bob LaSala, the county administrator.
"The project meets the initiatives described in the County's 2005, Recreation, Open Space and Culture System Master Plan," the letter from LaSala said. "Specifically to 'inject life, color and energy into the regional parks and preserves."
There would be a boon in revenues for hotels and other nearby businesses with "zero" impacts to the environment, according to LaSala's letter.
JoEllen Farnham is a Sand Key resident for the last 10 years. She said residents have several concerns about putting a zipline tour in the park including impacts to the plants and animals.
“Our major concern is compatibility with 'our park,'” Farnham said. “We prefer Sand Key not be the experimental site.”
The Sand Key Civic Association will talk about the proposal at its next meeting at 7 p.m. April 4 at the Clearwater Sailing Center.