The sleepy Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon will soon be replaced with water slides, lap pools and picnic areas for the public to enjoy.
City officials, Fremont Bank Foundation and the Candle Lighters broke ground Tuesday afternoon on the long-awaited Fremont water park, recently dubbed Aqua Adventure.
The park, which has been in the planning stages since 1998, will not be a water slide park like Raging Waters or Water World, said Annabell Holland, Fremont Parks and Recreation Department director.
Instead, Holland said Fremont's facility will take some of the tamer elements from those parks.
Aqua Adventure will be built with four water slides, a "lazy river," a lap pool, two picnic areas and classrooms to educate the public on water and nature.
The Puerto Penasco Swim Lagoon, which opened in 1969, officially closed in 2001 due to an aging infrastructure, declining attendance and increased costs, city reports indicate.
In 1998, Holland was given the task of surveying the community to see if such a project would be welcomed in Fremont.
Now, nine years later, and following several bumps in the road, the park will finally get off the ground.
Holland said Aqua Adventure should open in May 2009.
"This will be a facility we can all be proud of and the community can thoroughly enjoy," she said.
City Manager Fred Diaz said it was important to make the project delayed by increasing construction costs a sustainable and successful feature in Fremont.
"This project was not without its challenges," Diaz said. "When a project like this relies on various funding sources, it's hard to come in under budget."
Two funding sources include local community organizations, Fremont Bank Foundation and the Candle Lighters.
Fremont Bank Foundation donated $1 million in funds to the park, and the Candle lighters matched $600,000 in grant funds to get the project going.
Mayor Bob Wasserman said city tax dollars will not be used to build or operate the facility.
The mayor added that while the cost of the park escalated beyond what city officials had hoped, nearly every project the city has undertaken recently was over budget.
"This project has hit a number of blocks, and it's been on and off," Wasserman said. "Well, it's on again. I think controversial projects are good for us. We took a lot of criticism on this project, but we're finally moving forward."
Hattie Hyman-Hughes, Fremont Bank Foundation president, said she was honored to donate funds to the park, because her father Morris Hyman loved Fremont's Central Park.
She added that she could see him looking down on the swim lagoon that day smiling.
"This is truly a good day for Fremont Bank," she said. "This is the largest grant the foundation has made to date, and hopefully it won't be the last we make."
Concord-based Sierra Bay Contractors Inc. will build the park, at a cost of $14 million.
Construction is scheduled for completion by August 2008, with commission and testing done that September.
In addition, staff training will take place in fall and winter, so the park can be open by Memorial Day 2009.
Thereafter, the water park would then be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day annually.Starting this week," I will post a Video of the City breaks ground on water park."