CommunityLet's Hear It


Okeechobee County aiming for 'controlled growth' as graduates leave community

'We graduate 350 seniors every year and 90% of them never come back,' David Hazellief says
Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 29, 2024

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — Port St. Lucie is one of the fastest growing cities in the county.

There also seems to be a ton of interest in developing Fellsmere right now. So much so, we could see the population size double in five years.

Could Okeechobee be up next in completing a link in this land triangle? Folks there hope not.

It's something WPTV heard over and over during our last Let's Hear It about a week ago. I talked to people who moved to Okeechobee from places like Boynton Beach and Boca Raton for the solitude and open space.

However, county officials said in order to pay for different projects and infrastructure, growth is inevitable.

"I don't think we want to be a Port St. Lucie but we have to do good controlled growth, because we graduate 350 seniors every year and 90% of them never come back,” Okeechobee County Commission Chairman David Hazellief said. “So, we have to be able to do something to generate businesses and homes for them if they decide to do so."

One of the big talkers right now in Okeechobee is a place known for its fishing. Bass Pro Shops is moving and transforming the area into a world class fishing resort.

The chair of the county commission said it's the number one question he gets and it's still the plan but no move in date yet.

However, the Bass Pro possibility could catapult tourism in Okeechobee, which already hit the five million mark as visitors go there each year.