By Jessica Tuggle
BREVARD -- The skyscraping wooden towers in Fellsmere visible from Interstate 95 can now be seen up close and personal by members of the public.
Approximately one year after breaking ground, the Florida Tech challenge course in Fellsmere is completed and being used by the university's Army ROTC students and soon will be used by members of the general public.
"This is a fantastic venue and it seemed a perfect fit for the vision of Fellsmere," said Fellsmere Mayor Susan Adams.
The approximately 18-acre course is a joint partnership venture between the city of Fellsmere and Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne and the school's Army ROTC program. The project is part of a long-range 100-acre eco-tourism effort the city planned.
Designed to meet U.S. Army standards, the course is physically challenging, but also designed to promote team building and critical thinking, said Capt. Lawrence Lewis, assistant professor of military science and Florida Tech ROTC leader.
With daunting elevated ropes courses, log climbs, alpine towers, cargo nets, vertical walls, sand traps, a 300-foot zip line and more, both cadets and members of the public can test their physical strengths and mental skills with the challenges, Capt. Lewis said.
The agreement between Fellsmere and Florida Tech ROTC says the ROTC cadets have first chance at the course five months out of the year.
"During the rest of the time, Florida Tech will take charge of organizing the various groups that wish to take part in the challenge course," he said. "Law enforcement will have the opportunity to use the facility, as will church groups, corporations for retreats and team building activities and adventurous outdoor enthusiasts."
The various courses are available for rent for a minimum of four hours and prices are available online.
Congressman Bill Posey was present at the grand opening of the challenge course on March 11, and said the project was a great example of the rare moments when federal and local government agencies and private institutions can work together to bring about a long-lasting positive for the community.
"I love to see this link between Brevard and Indian River County," Congressman Posey said.
Fellsmere city councilman Fernando Herrera said the course was extremely impressive, and he was excited for it to be a part of the future of Fellsmere.
Cadet Myron Krider was one of the ROTC students giving challenge course demonstrations during the grand opening. While atop the "Tarzan" course, Cadet Krider had to maneuver from ropes segment to ropes segment while doing belly and overhand crawls and rope swings while attached with dual redundant overhead safety cables.
"We've done this about three times, and we making it look easy, but it's not really," Cadet Krider said with a laugh.
He said he is looking forward to having the close training course to add to his ROTC courses.
Capt. Lewis said there's a certain joy that can be had after accomplishing a challenge like the challenge course in Fellsmere.
"Let's say you have a fear of heights. Y ou try and you try and one day you finish one of those high challenges. You get a sense of accomplishment after that because you know you put a lot of hard work into it," Capt. Lewis said.
For more information about the course, contact Tim Fletcher at (321) 727-7930 or visit www.fit.edu/challenge-course.