Visitors to the Great Wolf Lodge water park, above, relax while floating down Caribou Creek.
SANDUSKY - The Erie Regional Planning Commission will consider plans for the Sandusky area's fourth indoor water park at a meeting tonight.
The first phase of the $96 million Coyote Falls resort, to be built on U.S. 250 in Perkins Township by Dial Family Resorts of Omaha, will include 347 motel rooms and a 65,000-square-foot water park, a company official said yesterday.
According to preliminary plans submitted to the planning commission, the resort would be on 48.91 acres on the west side of U.S. 250 between Bogart and Fox roads in Perkins Township. The land already is zoned for general commercial use.
The commission will consider a preliminary plat for the project during the meeting, which is set for 7:30 p.m. in the east lounge of Foundation Hall at Bowling Green State University's Firelands Campus in Huron.
Pat Ricketts, an official of Dial Family Resorts, said the company hopes to begin construction late this summer and have the first part of the resort, with a "north woods fishing cabin theme," open by early 2009. The company plans to double the number of rooms and the size of the water park during a second phase of construction after the facility opens.
Lookout Lagoon at Castaway Bay water park near Cedar Point features a bucket that drops 1,000 gallons of water every two minutes onto guests below. The Sandusky area, which has three water parks, may be in line to get a fourth one very soon.
Mr. Ricketts said Dial chose the Sandusky area because of its popularity as a vacation destination and its location near such large cities as Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, and Toledo.
That popularity has been boosted in the last five years by the construction of three other indoor water parks: Great Wolf Lodge, Castaway Bay, and Kalahari Waterpark Resort.
Mr. Ricketts said his company thinks the area has room for more such resorts. He pointed to the Wisconsin Dells resort area, where more than a dozen indoor water parks have opened in the last decade.
"We still see Sandusky as a great market," he said. "One, because of the demographics, and two, because of the synergy it'll create with the other indoor water parks. We're going to feed off that and model it after the Wisconsin Dells."
Coyote Falls would be Dial Family Resorts' first water park. The firm's corporate parent, Dial Companies Corp., and its subsidiaries build and manage shopping centers, apartment buildings, office complexes, and hotels.
Tim King, a senior planner with the planning commission, said he has no objections to the preliminary plan but noted that Dial must seek approval of its final plan, a process that in some cases can take a year.
Bill Dwelle, chairman of the Perkins Township trustees, said some residents wonder whether the area can support another indoor water park. Personally, he said he has no doubts.
"When it comes to water parks, the interesting thing is, we've got a number of them already, and yet they're all busy," Mr. Dwelle said. "People want to go to water parks."
He sees the project as another plus for the township, saying it will attract jobs and boost revenue from property taxes and its 3 percent bed tax.
"It's a win-win thing all way around," he said. "We're looking forward to seeing it done."
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