— By BRIAN SMITH
HUDSON OAKS — Despite some early delays, work continues on the Splash Kingdom Wild West Waterpark scheduled for opening Memorial Day Weekend.
Work was delayed in the fall because of some funding issues, but has been going full bore for the last few weeks. During a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday morning, Assistant City Manager Patrick Lawler said work is progressing well.
“We have put all the utilities in underground and our sewer work is completed,” Lawler said. “We plan on starting to dig pools Wednesday as well as starting on parking lot construction.”
Despite the dreary weather, bulldozers were working on some of the ground to the west of the Cinema 10 Theater where the park will be located. The 14.5-acre facility will share some parking with the theater, which is expected to begin a four-screen expansion in the near future.
City and business officials along with East Parker County Chamber of Commerce representatives were on hand for the “official”ground breaking and ribbon cutting. Splash Kingdom Waterparks President Johnny Blevins said he is glad to be able to bring the type of family entertainment the park has provided to Canton and Shreveport, La., residents to Hudson Oaks.
“The big thing is this is for our youth and our families,” Blevins said. “We’re going to be hiring them. We want to see them at our park.”
The park is expected to be an economic boon for the city, with an estimated 150,000 people expected in the first summer alone. Mayor Pat Deen said Hudson Oaks is ready for the park and the business it is expected to bring.
Splash Kingdom is expected to bring about 150 jobs to the area, many of them taken by youth. Blevins said he will begin hiring for the summer in March by going to area schools.
The hiring process is a bit different at Splash Kingdom, Blevins said.
“We’re hiring youth as young as 16 who won’t have the work experience, so we ask for a report card with their application,” Blevins said. “This is their work history to this point. We will also talk with counselors and principals as well. We want good people who are willing to put away their Xboxes and phones and get some real world experience.”
Employees will have extensive training upon being hired.
“We want them to be able to interact with adults in a professional manner and represent the park and the company well,” Blevins said.
Blevins has already made one hire for the park, bringing in former employee Jessica Shilts to become client services director.