Kissimmee wants to operate water ferry on Lake Toho



The city of Kissimmee wants to become a top tourist destination. City leaders are looking to spend $150,000 on a ferry boat taxi service for eco-tourists.

The boat would leave from Lake Front Park, which is undergoing a $25 million makeover.

All 35 square miles of Lake Tohopekaliga, including its wildlife and the two islands in the middle of the lake, will be a little easier to see and get to when the water taxi begins operation.

The city plans to start the service before summer. They already have plans to borrow a boat from Osceola County.

Mark Detweiler owns the Big Toho Marina at Lakefront Park and he said the city doesn't have much now, so this is a big change to the city's waterfront.

"This will definitely be a way to get people back to the lakefront and get them through the marina," said Detweiler.

One of the stops on the ferry route would be Makinson Island. Right now the only way you could get to the island is by private boat or by taking a guided tour.

"It's very slow down here. The economy has a lot of things bogged down and people just don't have the money to pay a guide to get them to the island," said Detweiler.

Channel 9's Racquel Asa asked if city taxpayers would foot the bill if the ferry fails.

A representative from the city's parks and recreation department said it is not willing to put any city money into the project. Money for the project would come from a federal grant.

The city plans to hire a company to operate the ferry. That company would be responsible for keeping the boat service afloat.

Detweiler said he hopes the company advertises enough to make it work.

"Right now we're living day to day," said Detweiler.