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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Jun. 29, 2014 5 years ago

Kayaking facility to open

by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

Owner has future plans to lead ecotourism trips.

You can hear the excitement in George Moremen’s voice as he stands on the grassy lot on U.S. 1, looking out onto Strickland Creek and talking about the kayaking opportunities.

“It’s gorgeous,” he said. “There are deer and manatees, lots of wildlife.”

Strickland Creek joins Thompson and Dodson creeks, and Moremen said they wind through areas with oaks, pines and palm trees. Also, many canals cut for mosquito control offer diversions.

Starting August 1, Moremen plans to share this gateway to the “real Florida.”

His new business venture, Daytona OAKS Outfitters, will welcome the public to rent kayaks and explore the creeks from their location at 815 N. U.S. 1 (between Elegant Limousines and Ormond Crab House).

OAKS stands for Outdoor Adventure Kayak Services, and guided tours will be available.

The now empty lot will also have a sand volleyball court, gazebos, game toss, picnic tables, fire pits and horse shoes.

Moremen hopes to work with the community and bring groups from churches, clubs, schools and other organizations, as well as families, to enjoy the facility. He hopes it will be used for events and community programs.

“It will be place to hang out,” he said.

He will be allowed to have music, with the same restrictions as River Grille Restaurant.

“Somebody might want to bring a guitar,” he said.

But kayaks are only the beginning. Canoes will be added later, as well as paddle boards and hydro bikes — and Moremen has even bigger plans.

He wants to have paddling and camping excursions to Tomoka State Park and Gamble Rogers State Park, and later on, the location will serve as a base camp for guided tours, camp retreats, kayaking adventures, etc., throughout the area.

Moremen said he has organized recreation, tours and day camps his whole life. Born in Daytona Beach, he managed Daytona by the Sea, a resort camp, in the 1980s.

He’s passionate about the benefits of the outdoors.

“It’s good to away from smart phones,” he said. “We need to get up and get outdoors and experience the great natural attractions. It’s peaceful and relaxing but can also be challenging.”

Kayakers can challenge themselves all they want from the OAKS location. Two of the creeks lead to the Tomoka Basin, which has access to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Moremen is leasing the land from Lou Vigliotti, owner of Lou’s Plumbing, who seems as enthused about the project as Moremen.

“I’m so happy he is doing what I would do if I had the time,” Vigliotti said.

Lou’s plumbing is located in the building next door. Vigliotti bought the nearly one-acre property in the 1980s.

For years, the scenic waterfront lot has been enjoyed by his family and employees, and he calls it his “park.” At one time, he considered building townhomes on the lot, but is now enthused by Moremen’s plans

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed this nature all these years.”

The City Commission voted to approve a special exception to allow outdoor recreational facilities at the location at their June 17 meeting.

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