Water park projects still are in the works in Kennewick and Pasco, even though developers say it will be at least a year before the Tri-Cities will have one to call its own.
The proposed Shark Reef for Southridge still is on track to open by Memorial Day 2011, and it has grown in size and moved to a different site west of Highway 395, says developer Mike Hillman.
And in Pasco's rapidly growing west end, the Bahama Bay Water Park project on 27 acres on Sandifur Parkway still has as target launch date of Memorial Day 2012, said Jim Hale, a Florida developer with family ties to the Tri-Cities.
Both projects are pulling together funding, with groundbreaking months away.
The Tri-Cities is one of the last areas in the Mid-Columbia without a family-oriented water park. Hermiston and Pendleton each boast water parks, while Moses Lake's water park draws crowds from Central Washington and water parks in Spokane and northern Idaho also serve patrons in Eastern Washington.
Jeff Kossow, Kennewick director of economic development, said a water park will be just what the city needs, a perfect amenity for the Southridge Sports Complex.
"It'll be great for us," he said.
Hillman and his brother-in-law, Dave Schlotthauer, presented their idea to the city four months ago for a $5 million park on five acres along Highway 395 north of the state patrol office about one mile south of 27th Avenue.
But after getting his feet wet with the proposal, Hillman is expanding the project to a $9 million concept with three more acres and taking it across the highway to a 9.4-acre site, with another four acres for parking.
"We've really expanded it to include year-round attractions including batting cages, black light mini-golf and laser tag," Hillman said.
Now named Shark Reef, the water park will be unique in having a drive-in theater too, he said.
Hillman said he and Schlotthauer expect to have their funding secured by September or October and break ground in October.
"We should be ready by Memorial Day 2011," he said.
The decision to jump to a bigger piece of land was suggested by developer Dean Maldonado, who Hillman said offered to cut a deal on the price so the water park project could take advantage of the city's plans to install water and sewer lines and street improvements as part of a state financing program for local revitalization.
Kossow said the Shark Reef Water Park will help improve the Highway 395 gateway into Kennewick. "That's great for us," he said.
Hillman said he first thought the water park would create about 50 to 60 summer jobs, but with the new plans, he expects to offer up to 140 summer employment opportunities, with a much smaller year-round crew.
In Pasco, Hale's proposal for a water park off Sandifur Parkway envisions a good deal more than pools, slides and a wave/ surf riding pool.
It will take longer to build and a whole lot more money, but Hale said Bahama Bay will feature indoor and outdoor facilities, a hotel and attractions such as go-karts and a family amusement center on a large scale.
"We're thinking that the Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia would be one of our competitors. We intend to market up to 200 miles away," Hale said. "The Tri-Cities has something Centralia doesn't -- a lot more sunshine," he said.
"There's a lot happening and our funding is coming along well. We've got a secure source and should be able to close the land deal by the end of September," Hale said in a phone interview from Florida.
Once the land is purchased and financing locked in, construction probably will begin in the spring of 2011, Hale said.
"We are still on track to break ground next year, and open on Memorial Day 2012," he said.