Summer Lakes History
The construction of I-95 was the genesis for Summer Lakes, when two large, recreational lakes – now the central feature of Summer Lakes – were created by contractors who utilized dirt from the Cocoa Ranch during the construction process.
DUDA CEO and President Joseph Duda noted that “the larger, central lake was dug in the 1960s and the fill was used for building I-95. The southern lake was built later, in the 1970s, to help construct the Fiske Boulevard interchange and overpass.” The large central lake and smaller adjacent lake to the south were originally completely separated by a strip of land that still exists today, but the once overgrown berm has been transformed into a landscaped and lighted pedestrian walkway with a bridge.
“It was always a beautiful spot with large oak trees and a cool breeze off the lakes which made it a natural choice for our company and family picnics and events. We built a pavilion on the west side of the lakes to accommodate these events,” recalls Duda.
In the early 1970s, DUDA elected to share the beauty of the area by obtaining a Ramada Camp Inn franchise and developed the site into a beautiful campground, with a general store and office and well thought out camp sites carefully placed around the lake for privacy. Joseph Duda’s daughter, Valerie Duda-Miller, remembers the campground well. She recalls the camp was always a great destination for her and her sister, Donna, during their family stays at the ranch. “There was a rope swing at the lake and a floating dock we liked to play on, and we would ride our bikes across the dirt road (now Stadium Parkway) over to the camp’s general store to buy candy or an ice cream bar.”
In the early 1980s, the site was leased to a pastor who turned the campground into Camp Biblia – a Christian campground. The site was also utilized by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department for training their dive team. An old boat and car were sunk in the southeast corner of the large lake to provide divers with a realistic rescue practice environment. By the late 1980s, Camp Biblia had closed and the Duda family and Cocoa Ranch employees resumed use of the site for recreational gatherings. For most of the third and fourth generation Duda family members, the area will probably always be known as Lake Biblia or Camp Biblia.
Family members used the lake as a retreat during the 1990s, erecting several temporary trailers on the property. The smaller central lake was even used as part of DUDA’s aquaculture operations, providing habitat for floating fish pens anchored at the southern end. During this time, the camp’s general store was repurposed for use as The Viera Company’s first onsite office. Duda recalls that the building also served as the launching place for the congregation of Faith Viera. “On Sundays, when our office was closed, the congregation would meet in our conference room,” he said. “They continued to meet there even after we moved our offices into our building on Murrell Road.”
As Viera gained momentum, it became clear that the land the family referred to as Camp Biblia, like the rest of the family’s beloved Cocoa Ranch, would soon have to be shared with the public. In 2000, The Viera Company began to formulate plans for developing the site into a large lot community. It was important to The Viera Company and the Duda family that this special site be developed in a manner that preserved its natural beauty. In the end, what resulted is a community that is unlike any other in Viera. Summer Lakes represents distinguished estate living in a natural setting.