Saturday, May 24, 2014

Battle To Save The South's First Water Park

Wild Waters in Silver Springs, FL has been a summertime fun tradition since 1978 and it has also provided summer jobs. It is one of the South’s first and oldest Water Parks and with large live Oaks and Palm trees, it’s one of the most beautiful in the US.

Wild Waters and Silver Springs, home of the world famous Glass Bottom Boats and place where movies such as Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Legend, the Sea Hunt TV Series where made, was being managed by Palace Entertainment for the past 20 years.  Prior to that is was owned by ABC Entertainment.

Governor Rick Scott let Palace Entertainment out of their contract last year which was supposed to run until 2029. He then put our Water Park & Silver Springs under the control of the Florida Park Service. That has turned out to be a huge mistake for the people in Central Florida.

Since the Florida Park Service took over Silver Springs, we have suffered a considerable downgrade in services and entertainment. They eliminated the small zoo, the animal shows, rides like the safari ride, boat rides, kids attractions and more. Now there is barely anything left worth going to Silver Springs to see other than an occasional concert on the weekend.

Recently, the same Park Service bureaucrats who ruined Silver Springs has recommended closing our Water Park, Wild Waters. It is important to note that some of the management of the Florida Park Service are also members of the Silver Springs Advisory Group.

In the Star Banner article, “Wild Waters days are numbered”, Mr. Lew Scruggs who’s position is the Chief Office of Park Planning, stated that they plan on spending 15 – 20 Million Dollars on Silver Springs.

That statement proves money is not an issue.

The same article states that they plan to "phase out" Wild Waters within 3 to 5 years and State officials have "come to see it as an eyesore”.  Advisory Group members have also stated in public records that Wild Waters is "Not compatible with park service mission" and “contributes to blight”.

With statements like those, it appears that the real reason the Advisory Group want to close our Water Park is that certain members are biased against it and just want it gone because it doesn't fit into their "Park Service" mindset.

They plan on replacing our Historic Water Park with a "swimming hole" in Silver Springs Park.  Most of the people who attends the Water Park do not want anything to do with a place like that and will not go there. We already have swimming in places like Juniper Springs and they are not well attended. 

There is no comparison between water slides, wave pools and a park “swimming hole”.  A Water Park is a much more safe and clean environment which is preferred by families for their small children.  It’s far more enjoyable to slide down a water slide and be in a wave pool than a park “swimming hole”. The idea that creating swimming in the springs is what everyone wants is absurd and proves how out of touch the Advisory Group and Park officials are.

It's rather incredible that the Advisory Group is proposing to spend 15 – 20 Million dollars on Silver Springs which is usually empty except during concerts, while wanting to close our water park which is jam packed during the summer.  A fraction of that 15 – 20 Million dollars would go a long way towards restoring and preserving Wild Waters. 

We have received almost 3,000 signatures in the past 60 days in support of keeping Wild Waters open and comments from people all over the United States (including our troops in the Mid East) condemning the Advisory Groups recommendation of eliminating our Water Park.  I’m sure we could easily get 10,000 signatures if more people knew the petition existed.

Our water park is loved and well patronized so this is not a matter of there not enough income to sustain it's operation. The fact that thousands of people patronize Wild Waters each year proves people wants this Water Park to remain open.

Additional proof that more people supports Wild Waters than the Advisory Group plans it is the fact that 3000 people signed a petition to keep Wild Waters open. The Advisory Group and Florida Park Service has not obtained one (1) signature which support their plan to close it.

The ultimate purpose of the Park Service is to serve the people.  The Advisory Group and Florida Park Service plans to eliminate Wild Waters are in direct opposition to what the people want. 

It would be a travesty if their plans become reality and are forced upon the people of Central Florida.

Members of the Advisory Group and other State officials including Governor Rick Scott, Silver Springs Park Manager Ms. Sally Lieb, Republican House Majority Leader Mr. Steve Crisafulli, Republican Senate Majority Leader Ms. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Ocala City Council and the Marion County Commissioners have received copies of the petition. Their response has been to completely ignore the pleas from citizens to keep our Water Park open.

On the Save Wild Waters facebook page and in the petition comments, people are expressing that they have cherished memories and a strong attachment to this incredible place.  They want it to stay open from now on.

I'm a firm believer in Democracy and feel the will of the people should prevail. Every state official is paid by taxpayers and are therefore Public Servants. These Public Servant State Officials should be doing what the majority of the people want instead of trying to cram what they want down out throats.

Tax payer subsidized Golf Courses are being provided for the more affluent and senior citizens of Ocala.  If there’s money for Golf Courses, there should be the same for Wild Waters so families have a local place to take their children, and people of all ages can enjoy water slides and the wave pool during the summer.

Daytona Beach, Orlando and other cities have Waters Parks…  there is no legitimate reason why we shouldn’t be able to keep ours. Losing our Water Park would be a huge step backwards for the people of Central Florida.

It seems to me that ultimately, Governor Rick Scott is responsible for the potential loss of our Water Park and jobs. After releasing Palace Entertainment from their contract which would have ran until 2029, he should have made sure Wild Waters was preserved until at lease 2029 for the people in Central Florida instead of putting it under the control of Park Service People who see it as an “Eyesore”.

Scott is always taking about creating jobs... this will cost jobs.

He’s planning on spending 100 million dollars to get himself re-elected but failing to take action to keep our Water Park open for families and children in Central Florida who need it.

If our Water Park is closed it would be devastating to thousands of families and children in Central Florida who enjoy going there every year during the summer. There is very little entertainment here in Ocala as it is.

There are over 90 pages of signatures on the Save Wild Waters facebook petition and over 40 pages of comments.

People are literally pleading for Wild Waters to remain open but no one is listening or respecting our wishes.

If this travesty is not exposed by the news media soon, these bureaucrats will move forward with their plans and the South’s First Water Park will be lost forever.

Our facebook page is

Sign our petition:

1 comment :

  1. How dare they. It is this states most beautiful park. I won't go to any of the "concrete jungle" parks. Neith will many of our friends. Why would they shut it down. Isn't Scott getting his percentage?