Montgomery Water Park Not a Done Deal

Published: Mar. 15, 2006 at 2:53 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM CST
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Birmingham is one of four Alabama cities with water parks.
Birmingham is one of four Alabama cities with water parks.

The debate has begun over a multi-million dollar water park proposed for Montgomery's west side. While developers are ready to get started, it comes down to a matter of dollars -- millions of dollars the city would have to pour into the project up front.

Under the current proposal, the water park would be built inside Gateway Park, which is currently under construction at I-65 and the Southern Boulevard.

A golf course and clubhouse has already been completed. But if a water park is built, it would replace the tennis courts, ball fields, and walking trails currently on the drawing board.

"We have $6 million to finish out Gateway Park," said Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright. "If we use the $6 million for a water park, that means that we will not have the resources or the dollars to finish out the master plan."

Four developers have expressed interest in operating a water park at Gateway. But in order to make a profit, they need the city to pay the up-front costs.

The mayor and some city council members say they feel obligated to finish Gateway as planned.

"A vast majority of people in the neighborhood had input on the way this plan was put together," the mayor said.

But others say a water park would better stimulate economy.

"When you look at baseball in Montgomery, there were a lot of nay-says who didn't see the vision," said council member C.C. Calhoun. "Now look at the development downtown behind baseball."

Montgomery would join at least four other cities with water parks -- Auburn, Birmingham, Decatur and Dothan. But it's unlikely the full council will approve the proposal. They meet again next Tuesday.

The mayor says no one is opposed to the idea of a water park somewhere in the city. But he says the developers need to come up with more cash and a more suitable location.

Reporter: Mark Bullock