You can't really see it from Lakeview Drive, but construction is well under way at SoakYa, Lake Winnepesaukah's new five-acre water park that will include an adventure river, beach lagoon, seven slides and three swimming pool areas.
Ninety percent of the earthwork is complete, the restroom and concession stand should be fully framed in a week, and thousands of feet of water pipe have been buried, project superintendent Thomas Lampron said.
"We will be finished -- no ifs, ands or buts -- on May 3," he said.
That will give park employees time to learn to operate the attraction before SoakYa's May 24 grand opening. Meanwhile, the "dry" side of the almost 90-year-old amusement park reopens April 13.
A pool is being built on the site of an overflow parking lot at Lake Winnie. The earthwork has required bringing in some gravel and hauling off some topsoil, Lampron said. But otherwise, the dirt on site is sufficient to build the water park. Lampron said Friday that the island on which water slides will stand needs to be made five to eight feet taller.
Lampron works for Aquatic Development Group Inc., a company based near Albany, N.Y.
"They've built over 100 water parks in the United States. They've built them worldwide," Lake Winnepesaukah spokeswoman Talley Green said.
Aquatic Development Group is "vertically integrated," meaning it handles all aspects of building a water park, including design, construction and manufacture of components.
"You ever see the movie 'Life of Pi'?" Lampron asked. "We made the waves for that."
The company made the wave machine that was shipped to Taiwan and used in a pool built specifically for the movie.
SoakYa won't have a wave pool -- initially.
"Not to begin with," Green said. "Eventually, we hope to have one."
Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...