TULALIP — This next big project may make a splash: An indoor water park.
The Tulalip Tribes are in the early stages of considering a water park on the north end of Quil Ceda Village, said Les Parks, a tribal board member and treasurer.
“It’ll be very significant in size,” Parks said. “I can’t tell you how big that is, but I can tell you in my vision it would be one of the biggest if not the biggest on the West Coast.”
The tribes need to do a feasibility study to determine the customer base. That study will take eight to 10 weeks. An indoor water park would be able to draw from the populations of Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., Parks said.
“When we get through the feasibility study, it will take another six months to a year for planning,” Parks said. “I wouldn’t expect anything to break ground in ’18 or ’19 although it’s possible in ’19.”
The water park and an adjoining hotel could be the anchor tenant for an entire entertainment complex in the area, said Terry Gobin, vice chairwoman of the tribes.
Future phases could include a movie theater, a destination video game arcade in the vein of Dave & Buster’s, and a concert venue, she said.
“It’ll be good for the whole community,” Gobin said. “It’ll offer more things for families to do in the wintertime and the summertime.”
She said it’s too early to know the costs and exact size of the water park, but they have talked about having a park that could attract people of all ages. It would include pools for young children, wilder wave pools for teens and adults, and areas for older folks and people with disabilities.
They’ve talked about adding a retractable roof for the summertime. The tribes would also like to include solar panels to generate energy.
There is excitement about the concept, but it still needs to go to the general council, who will be interested in costs and return on investment, she said.
This is another push by the Tulalip Tribes to cement its economic future. The tribes broke ground late last year on a $140 million hotel and casino to replace Quil Ceda Creek Casino.
Parks and Gobin, who are part of an economic development committee for the tribes, noted that it is costly to run the tribal government. The tribes also have an ambitious plan to expand its education efforts and would like to expand health care for tribal members.
“We live in a world today that demands money,” Parks said. “The Native American community needs to make money to sustain its future.”
Last year, the City of Everett connected a 36-inch water line to the reservation. Parks said the water line is important to all of the tribes’ projects, but is not necessary for this water park. While water parks use a lot of water, it doesn’t need to be replenished very often, Park said.
The tribes have considered building a water park in the past. They worked with a private developer in the early 2000s, but one of the principals made a statement derogatory to American Indians. The tribal chairman at the time decided to walk away from the deal, Parks said.
Still, a study conducted at the time found that there would be heavy interest in the project.
“What it really told us is that you can’t build it fast enough — get it done,” he said.
The earlier feasibility study noted the attraction would be a strong draw for people in Snohomish County.
“I’m terribly excited,” Parks said. “I was excited 15 years ago and I’m even more excited today.”
Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; firstname.lastname@example.org; @HBJnews.
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