ST. GEORGE – A proposed water park set for the Middleton suburb of St. George is moving ahead thanks to the City Council voting to abandon a segment of roadway to the project’s developers Thursday night.
The “Splash City Adventure Water Park” is slated to be built in the area of 2200 E. Middleton Drive across approximately 10 acres just west of Interstate 15 and next to the city’s border with Washington City. The segment of road being vacated will be absorbed into the water park property as the project moves ahead.
While they gain a portion of Middleton Drive, developers will also build a road between Middleton Drive connecting to Red Hills Parkway in the area of Highland Drive in order to preserve traffic access. Developers will also widen Red Hills Parkway along the front of the water park to five lanes with two entry points into the parking lot from the frontage road.
Developers are required by the city to build the new roadway between Middleton Drive and Red Hills Parkway before beginning construction on the water park proper.
The eastern end of Middleton Drive that connects with Red Hills Parkway is being left alone so a business and neighboring residences can maintain access to Red Hills Parkway, said Shayne Barney, who represented the developers at the council meeting. He also said the roadway would not be used as a general access point into the water park.
About a dozen residents voiced their concerns to the City Council with a majority of comments dealing with traffic and parking worries. Increased traffic through Middleton neighborhoods and parking in front of homes was mentioned among those concerns. One resident said he would have any cars parked in front of his home towed if it got to that point.
At least two area residents suggested a traffic signal be provided at an intersection so drivers could safely make turns onto Red Hills Parkway.
Abandoning the road would “impact our business significantly,” said Dorothy Huntington, one of the owners of Somerville Automotive and Marine, a business that sits next to the Middleton Drive-Red Hills Parkway intersection.
The intersection is already a mess without the added complication of vacating the road, she said. Huntington added that she’s seen the traffic on Red Hills Parkway get backed up from the Green Springs intersection on occasion. At times like that, access to her business will be cut off, she said.
“That’s a no man’s land and that intersection is terrible,” City Manager Gary Esplin said.
While the city vacated a segment of Middleton Drive to the Splash City developers, it retains ownership of the so-called “terrible” intersection. Esplin said the city may want to consider finding the funds necessary to fix the intersection somehow so it’s less of a nightmare.
While the primary opinion of area residents was that abandoning the roadway would make matters worse, members of the City Council said they believed it could actually improve the area and make it safer.
“I see this as an opportunity to improve the area and fix this problem,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said. “… To me, you have to enter Red Hills Parkway somewhere, and right now it’s pretty bad. I’m thinking we have the ability to make it better with this proposal.”
The City Council also approved other measures related to the water park, such as the height of 80 feet for a water slide tower and a site-design plan.
The water park will have a tropical island theme and feature water slides, a 900-foot-long “Lazy River,” a surfing-capable wave pool and play areas for children, all surrounded by shaded cabañas.
While the water features are planned to be open on a seasonal basis, there are also plans to construct a 22,179-square-foot “family entertainment center” – including a large arcade room, trampoline area and indoor surf machines – to be open year-round.
Attempts have been made in the past to build a water park in St. George, yet none have gotten this far. A preliminary concept was presented to the City Council in October 2014 for a 13-acre water park behind the Dixie Center where hotels now stand.
If timing and future council-needed approvals for the water park go well, Barney said, developers are hoping to open the Splash City Adventure Water Park by summer next year.
St. George News reporter Joseph Witham contributed to this story.
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