Chamber Breakfast touts Port Royal as THE place to be

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More than 400 guests filed into the Pickens Chamber breakfast yesterday morning to hear what investors and project managers had to say about the proposed water park that seems to be moving towards reality. With a ground-breaking tentatively planned for October and a completion date of Thanksgiving 2016, the resort is moving forward.Mathew Knowles, father of Beyonce and Solange Knowles and creator of Destiny’s Child, believes the community and the environment are primed for the 175-acre resort and the type of clients it will draw. He spoke about ambition, success and what types of people attract success as an introduction to the other speakers who outlined their vision for the park and the future of Pickens County.

“If you work towards your passion, you’ll never work a day in your life because it will be fun. We are all passionate about the project we are sharing with you today,”

Knowles said. He then proceeded to give ten attributes of successful people that he believes are embodied by the team assembled to push Port Royal into reality.

Renderings of the project were presented along with a broad vision of what the resort could/should/might be. Some of the amenities include:

• Pier and boardwalk concepts
• Show pavilion
• Ziplines
• Family entertainment center – mini golf, laser tag, arcade
• Water park – indoor and outdoor
• Interactive pirate show
• Water sports – wade pools, wave pools, river tubing
• Spa
• Retail – 8000 feet
• Hotel rooms – 400 total
• Convention center – 25,000 feet
• Recording studio
• Amphitheatre – 16,000 capacity
• Hiking and biking trails

The $145 million project does have numerous potential positive outcomes: increase of business for all local entities, large revenue hike and job creation that reach much farther than the resort itself and the City of Jasper but beyond to the surrounding communities as well.

But is this what Pickens County really needs or wants?

Knowles said,

“The love and the hospitality this community has shown to us is a really, really, really magical thing.”

One question in the aftermath that’s been raised is how long that magical atmosphere will last once this project has infiltrated the rural community.

Although having a celebrity introduction didn’t hurt the project’s management team, several comments from within the community regarding his background and financial difficulties tainted the effectiveness. While the presentation was smooth and the benefits were highlighted, several questions regarding potentially negative effects were deflected and non-specific answers offered.

Knowles himself discussed Jasper Mayor John Weaver’s promise to provide all the water retainment needs of the park to which Weaver jokingly answered

“we need to change the subject.”

But is that really a joke? How will the water needs be met and who will end up footing the bill for the upgrades and maintenance?

In addition, after stating they envision drawing the Canadian traffic that comes down I-75 on the way to Florida they were queried about how they intend to divert that traffic and through where. The refuse and amount of “green planning” was brought up and job creation in relation to local residents weren’t answered directly.

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