What was touted as a plan for a premier resort destination just five years ago has come to an end.
Splash of Fun Water Park, LLC, a company which signed a 50-year lease with the Pat Harrison Waterway District in 2014, was issued a notice to vacate Friday.
Splash of Fun is on a 20-acre parcel inside Flint Creek Water Park, located on the east side of the reservoir.
The notice, on the letterhead of and signed by Jolly Matthews, the attorney for PHWD, dated the lease as of April, 2016 and claimed Russell ‘Rusty’ Ryals, president of Splash of Fun, was in violation of the lease and claimed he was endangering the safety and health of his customers.
The notice gave Ryals 24 hours to vacate the premises.
Ryals, in turn, laid the blame for the lease termination on Joe Smith, the park administrator, and said it was in retaliation for Ryals having stirred up controversy over campers taking over waterfront sites on a permanent basis in a, “first-come, first-served,” section of the park’s campgrounds.
“He doesn’t want kids to have fun out here,” Ryals said. “He wants to turn it into a retirement community.”
Smith said that was simply not true and he and his staff would attempt to have the former Watertown, U.S.A. up and running by August 17.
“What we’re going to do is fix the place and clean it up and make it a fun, family-friendly, affordable recreation option,” Smith said. “We’re going to have modern facilities with a professional, courteous staff and we’re going to reduce the price of admission.
“We won’t have a full-service restaurant, but we will have a short-order grill.”
At a grand opening/ribbon cutting ceremony on March 3, 2014, Ryals had announced a $5 million investment in a renovation which would be completed in five phases.
There was to be an eventual golf course, marina, condos, a possible hotel and sports fields.
Most of that did not come to fruition and, now, the relationship between Splash of Fun Water Park, LLC and the PHWD appears to be over.