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Hawaiian Falls flowing into White Settlement

07/04/2013 12:04 PM

07/04/2013 12:03 PM

White Settlement officials are diving into negotiations with the Hawaiian Falls company to open a 14-acre water park on the northwest side of Tarrant County.

“This will be an economic boon to the county like nothing else that has happened over here,” said Jim Ryan, White Settlement’s economic development director.

No firm numbers on how much it will cost to build the proposed amusement park were available, officials said. The Hawaiian Falls project would be in Veterans Park, Ryan said.

Hawaiian Falls has water parks in Mansfield, Roanoke, Garland, The Colony and Waco. Last summer, the park in Mansfield topped 200,000 visitors, exceeding attendance expectations. Hawaiian Falls water parks have lazy rivers, wave pools and various types of water slides.

Ryan said there are estimates that this water park could bring between 200,000 to 300,000 visitors to the west Fort Worth area, and there are plans to build an “adventure park” that would be open year-round.

The adventure park — the first of its kind in the area — would have climbing walls, zip-lines and other challenging activities for children and their parents.

David Alvey, a spokesman for the Hawaiian Falls company said White Settlement is a growing area in Tarrant County. They expect to attract visitors from across the area western portion of Tarrant County.

“We do studies of demographics and population density, but what it comes down to is city management and what the vision is for their city,” Alvey said.

Economic partnership

Hawaiian Falls builds its parks based on public/private partnerships with cities. Hawaiian Falls brings amenities to the area, and parks are built on city-owned land that is leased back to the company, he said.

Last week, the City Council and economic development corporation voted to go forward with negotiations with Hawaiian Falls during a joint meeting.

In the case of the Mansfield park, which is located at Texas 360 next to Big League Dreams, opened in 2008, the city contributed $5.1 million in voter-approved bond funds toward the $9.9 million construction cost. The Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corp., which administers a half-cent sales tax for park projects, added $2.8 million. The Hawaiian Falls company put $2 million.

Then last summer, based on the favorable income it was receiving from the park, the city contributed another $3 million for new attractions and there is already talk of expanding the park.

The Roanoke Hawaiian Falls, with its main attraction being the six-story-tall Mega Water World and its dozen slides, opened in 2011 and is operated under a 40-year lease with the city.

Hawaiian Falls emphasizes families spending time together at its parks. There are areas for toddlers, older children and adults, he said

The company owner, David Bush wants to “erase” the ongoing problem of childhood obesity, Alvey said.

“Schools are cutting back on physical education classes and children spend time watching videos. They can move around and have fun at the parks,” he said.

Economic rebound

Ryan said he doesn’t have estimates yet on how much revenue the park would bring in to White Settlement, but he said that the city is finally getting past the economic doldrums.

Two hotels are under construction, and another entertainment venue, Flight Deck has opened.

The Region XI Educational Service Center also moved its offices to White Settlement, bringing around 50,000 people to the city annually for training and seminars.

“I think White Settlement is the best-kept secret on the west side of Fort Worth,” Ryan said.

“We are cleaning up our city, and land values are going to move in the right direction for a change,” he said.

This story contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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