After nearly 15 years of splishing and splashing, Krystal River Water Park is turning off the waterworks.
Krystal River owner Ken Edwards said insurance woes are plaguing the water park.
"Our former insurance company (Genesis Indemnity) dropped us and now we're scrambling to find affordable insurance elsewhere," said Edwards. "Our insurance rate was $8,000 a month. The cheapest quote we've been able to find so far for coverage is $58,500 a month. We simply can't afford that."
Krystal River grosses about $450,000 a year, according to Edwards. He said that if he were to pay the $58,500 premium for each of the three months the park is open each year, it would take about 40 percent of his gross earnings, and that is not an option.
"It has nothing to do with anything financial. It has nothing to do with the water park," Edwards said. "We had a great season last year. The water park and myself are all financially stable. It's just the nobody will write insurance for a water park of this size in this community."
Emily Boedy flies from the Aqua Twist slide into a pool
at Krystal River Water Park in this file photo. High insurance premiums are forcing park owners to close.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Edwards tried to work out a last-minute deal with the Florida-based Rate Specialty Insurance Company, but that ended with a press release early Monday.
"It's just not fair to the children and families that have supported us each and every season," Edwards said in the release.
Even if a deal could have been worked out, it probably would have delayed the opening of the park by two weeks because of maintenance requirements that have gone unfulfilled during the insurance search.
"Because we have such a short season (80 days), losing those two weeks would be like another company having to shut down for two months," he said. "I'll be losing a lot of money, meanwhile my overhead and costs remain the same."
Located at 799 Industrial Drive in Evans, Krystal River sits on 15 acres of valuable real estate and is the only water park within 140 miles of Augusta. It plays host to thousands of families and employs around 120 high school students each summer - students who now may have to seek other employment at the last minute.
"Our shutting down will be a blow to the economy and I truly regret that," Edwards said. "We've had a great relationship with the people here, even in our off season when we would hold the Krystal River White Lights Show and the Storybook with Santa Claus."
As for Edwards, his real-estate agent informed him it would make better financial sense to close the park and sell the property, regardless of whether he is insured.
"The property is worth a lot of money," said Edwards. "We'll auction off the stuff that's on the property and then we'll sell the property if we can't get insured.
"Actually, the real-estate guy said I would be a lot better off, but that's not what I want to see happen. I've got 15 years in the community of having a nice recreation place for people to be, and I was happy with it."
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