Wild Waters runs dry for summer

Park will remain closed for season

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A sign at the closed gate to Wild Waters promises a 2011 reopening, three years after expansion plans failed to materialize.

COEUR d'ALENE - In May 2007, the operators of the Wild Waters water park were confident their new lazy river would open in time for summer activities.

Unfinished for the 25th anniversary three years ago, the work is still unfinished, and Wild Waters will remain closed for this summer, at least.

The gate is shut, with only a wrecked pickup and weeds growing through the cracks in the parking lot, and a sign advising the park will close for the season while construction continues.

What had been projected as a $1.5 million initial upgrade to North Idaho's first water park, instead turned into a financial catastrophe. In March, a trustee sale was scheduled, with nearly $1.4 million of debt against the property.

"It did not go forward," said J.D. Hallin, an attorney with Lukins & Annis, trustees for the lender, Washington Trust Bank.

As of Friday, the ownership is still shown by Kootenai County as the James E. Lavin Testamentary Trust. J. Stacey Lavin, listed along with Joseph J Lavin as grantors of the deed of trust in June, 2003, and co-trustees of the Lavin trust, did not return calls from The Press seeking information on progress at Wild Waters.

In 2007, identified as a park consultant, Stacey Lavin said the Sunnyside Lazy River would open in June and was to be part of a $4 million upgrade to Wild Waters.

The plan was to add additional attractions and a tiki bar to cater to adults during private events in evenings. Wild Waters typically employs about 100 during the summer.

The park's Web site is still functioning but states that for summer of 2010 "The water park will be closed for the summer season to allow for refurbishing of slides and new renovations and construction projects that are needed. Look for the new and improved park the summer of 2011."

Jennifer Ross, marketing director for Triple Play, which also has a water park, said she thought Wild Waters was to open this season, but heard from a lifeguard trainer that the season had been canceled. That has increased calls for group activities at Raptor Reef, she said.

"We're disappointed," said Bob Solders, who arrived with his wife and daughter from Lewiston as the thermometer hit 85 degrees to find Wild Waters closed.

The family took time off from camping at Lake Coeur d'Alene to spend some of their vacation in town.

"We wanted to come spend the day," Solders said. "We'll find a beach."

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