Proposed water park moves from Warner Robins to Peach County

chwright@macon.comOctober 8, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- A water park proposed for development in Warner Robins will now be wholly located in Peach County on the other side of the interstate, according to Development Authority of Peach County Director Charles Sims.

“The monetary value has in fact increased for Peach County because we won’t have that other municipality to worry about,” he said.

Sims spoke at Tuesday’s Peach County Commission meeting where commissioners unanimously agreed to honor the same arrangement to build a road to the water park as they previously decided.

“We will spend up to $388,000,” said Commissioner Roy Lewis. “The developer will be responsible if the price goes above $388,000.”

Jeff Franklin, an Atlanta small businessman, had proposed over the summer to build a water park on the east side of Interstate 75, off of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway in Warner Robins. Most of Warner Robins is located in Houston County, but a small eastern portion, where the water park was originally proposed, is located in Peach County.

To obtain the loan needed for the project, Franklin asked Warner Robins to commit to providing utilities to the park and Peach County to provide an access road.

Peach County agreed to provide the road but will not set the money aside until the development begins.

“We think it’s an economic project that can stand on its own, and we’ll deal with the funding when we get there,” Lewis said.

Warner Robins officials debated about whether to provide utilities. Mayor Chuck Shaheen said it didn’t make sense to commit to anything with an out-of-town developer when one in-town also wanted to build a water park and Franklin had yet to receive funding. Councilman Mike Daley and then-Councilman Mike Brashear said the project could help kick-start development on the parkway and produce more city revenue.

Ultimately, City Council voted 4-2 to provide the sewer, though Shaheen said he was still against the idea, especially given that no estimated costs had been calculated.

Sims said Tuesday the hubbub in Warner Robins did not influence Franklin’s decision to move the development to the west side of the interstate off of Russell Parkway.

“It had all to do with the owner of the (former) property had some family situations that she wanted to attend to and could not stay with the project long enough to get it done,” Sims said.

He told commissioners the new location will cost Franklin $800,000 less than the first location.

Paul Schwindler, public works director, said he has designed a commercial septic tank that will handle sewer needs at the park. He said it won’t create any offensive smells to visitors, and as long as no more than 10,000 gallons of waste are deposited per day, no oversight from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is needed.

Schwindler said Fort Valley will provide water to the park.

Sims told the commission the financial impact will be about the same, if not better, than at the first location.

“Everything is Peach County-oriented now, unlike the previous location,” Sims said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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