Anyone hoping to careen down the “tallest water slides in the Southeast” will have to wait a little longer.
The developers of the proposed Scuttle’s Island water park in North Augusta said Thursday that the 40-acre attraction will not be ready as planned for a Memorial Day weekend opening because of delays caused by an “unfortunate internal personnel issue” involving a former business partner.
A new grand opening date has not been finalized, but it should occur before the end of June, said Andrew Thompson, a partner and spokesman with Cedar Rock Holdings LLC, the Augusta-based investment group developing the $21 million project near Exit 5 on Interstate 20.
“We’ve lost three to four weeks of construction time, and it’s beyond our scope to make that up,” Thompson said during a news conference at the offices of Cedar Rock’s Augusta-based marketing firm, Ocozzio.
Thompson confirmed that the personnel issue involved Benjamin Bell, a prominent figure from the project’s early days who in November became the subject of a check fraud investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
The one-time shareholder also has been linked to liens on Columbia County property where Cedar Rock had initially planned to locate the park. The company decided to acquire real estate near the Wal-Mart on Edgefield Road/U.S. Highway 25 last fall.
Thompson said Bell is no longer affiliated with the company.
“The members of Cedar Rock Holdings felt it would be most prudent to resolve that issue prior to moving forward with any meaningful progress,” he said. “We are happy to report that as of 4:45 Monday, that issue has been resolved.”
Thompson declined to elaborate further, citing legal reasons.
He said the size and scope of Scuttle’s Island – which will feature multiple eateries, a 34,000-square-foot wave pool and a nine-story water slide – has not changed.
Cedar Rock has projected more than 250,000 visitors during the summer season.
Thompson said that most of the property Cedar Rock needs has been acquired and that the rest is under contract. He said the company has filed an application to change the name
of the site’s access road to “Castaway Drive.”
Despite the setbacks, Thompson said the investors are committed to seeing the project through and have already sunk about $7.5 million into the project through the purchase of slides, towers and preliminary site work.
“For the 10 people of the CSRA who make up Cedar Rock Holdings … we are too far down the road not to make it to our destination,” he said. “We have not stopped. We are not going to stop. We are going to continue to move forward to bring this to the community.”
Marc Glissman, an Alabama-based amusement park consultant with Innovative Attraction Management who Cedar Rock hired in January to oversee the project, said water park construction progresses quickly once actual work begins.
“Once you start bringing things out of the ground, it moves pretty rapidly,” said Glissman, adding that the June opening date is ambitious but not impossible. “It’s a very tight schedule, but a doable schedule.”