63ºF

'Biggest and best' water park proposed for Brevard

Project would cost nearly $20 billion

VIERA, Fla. – Angelo Turiano is the man with the plan.

The Viera man has answers to just about everything from saving the lagoon to creating a robust business environment and revolutionizing Port Canaveral, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

His resolution? Build the world's "biggest and best" water park right here in Brevard County, complete with a 60-mile monorail track that connects key areas.

The cost? About $19.7 billion.

Turiano was one of 11 Brevard County residents who recently brought proposals to the Brevard County Commission to consider. The board rejected most of the plans, including Turiano's. But he said that won't deter his ambitions.

That’s when I knew I had to meet this guy, Florida Today's Jessica Saggio said.

I arranged a meeting with the 84-year-old New York transplant to figure out what everyone is thinking, “Is this guy nuts?!”

When I met Turiano, who made me promise to call him Angelo, I was greeted by an enthusiastic Italian gentlemen carrying a thick folder full of detailed plans. Our first conversation, over email, included him making mention of my last name, informing me it meant “wise one.” As you can see, we were already off to a good start.

He was interested in seeing the Florida Today building, and I was interested in picking his brain. He was not, by any means, crazy at all. He was just a guy with big dreams who wants the best for Brevard County.

Turiano wants Brevard to step up and complement the Orlando area's tourism draw, but not in a way that competes. Rather, he'd like to see Brevard flaunt its already existing assets — such as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Brevard Zoo and miles of beaches — in a bigger, more elaborate way. Turiano said he was inspired to create the elaborate plan after several visits from his 21 children and grandchildren spurred conversations about the lack of things to do in Brevard.

So he proposed a park he calls the World of Air & Water, which includes:

  • A one-of-a-kind water park and aquarium.
  • An extensive 60-mile-long monorail system that would connect SR 528, Port Canaveral, KSC, the water park and Cocoa Beach.
  • A casino.
  • A concert hall for "Las Vegas style" performances.
  • Multiplex movie theater.
  • World's largest convention center.
  • A botanical garden.
  • A water sports complex.
  • A water and air science center.

These attractions would be spread through different areas of the county, and would involve moving Patrick Air Force Base from its current location to property at Kennedy Space Center. Perhaps this is his most grandiose idea. Turiano got a kick out of the word “grandiose,” but in true Italian fashion pronounced it, “grandioso.”

"That is prime real estate for a water park," said Turiano, who has a background in manufacturing engineering.

The water park and aquarium would sit where the existing PAFB is now. Just north, a water sports complex would be built en route to Port Canaveral. To the west, near the SR 528 and I-95 interchange, the casino, convention center, a hotel and botanical garden would be constructed.

Moving south, the concert hall, movie complex and science center would be built just west of US 1 off of SR 520. An employee village would be just north of that location. Seven monorail stations would be scattered throughout. Turiano also insisted this be a "people's park.”

"Families would not be ripped off by excessive parking fees, admission costs, $5 hot dogs and $2.50 drinking water. In this water park, ice cold drinking water must be free!!" Turiano wrote in his proposal.

So how could this plan potentially save the Indian River Lagoon or cement Port Canaveral as a destination port? Easy, he said. Because the  water park attraction would butt up to the lagoon, the park would be obligated and able to fund maintenance and keep it healthy. As for Port Canaveral, having a theme park would bring in more guests. Not to mention, the monorail system would connect those visitors to the county's hot spots, he said.

But there are so many looming questions, some of which Turiano can't answer. For example, residents west of 95 near Port St. John would likely be displaced, which he said would be "unfortunate." I pointed out where I live, not too far from where people would be forced to move, and he apologized. We laughed.

How to pay for the massive project is another challenge. But, of course, the biggest hurdle would be the relocation of PAFB. Turiano contacted dozens of officials, including Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, who responded in a letter noting security and logistical concerns.

"Your proposal to initiate the relocation and combination of PAFB with KSC to include new living areas, shops and entertainment and cultural center would also prove to be very costly, considering the large volume of existing infrastructure that would have to be abandoned or repurposed and the amount of new infrastructure that would be required," wrote Cabana in a letter to Turiano. "Moreover, relocating the 10,000-plus personnel that currently support PAFB into the hazardous processing and launch danger zones associated with KSC and CCAFS would be contrary to our safety policy."

Turiano also contacted Blue Origin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Rick Scott and Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and all five Brevard County Commissioners. However, Commissioner Robin Fisher was the only commissioner to respond, he said, although Fisher was not in favor of the plan.

Eric Garvey, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism, has called the plan "too broad to be feasible."

Although the plan was turned down by the county commission, Turiano still hopes it will create a conversation about the future of Brevard County.

"We would have the biggest and the best," he said. "You don't do this half way."

To that, we can both agree.