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Matter of Opinion

The Jurassic Park of Water Parks

It's been a busy week here in Opinion Land as we've been interviewing Spokane City Council candidates, so I never got around to blogging an item related to my Sunday column on the big changes in Idaho's Silver Valley.

One of the biggest surprises for me was how Silver Mountain Resort has grown and how hard it's trying to make Kellogg a world-class destination resort. At this point, it could go either way, though signs are good that it's been discovered. Their Silver Mountain condos are sell-outs, and a golf-course community project sold almost all its lots within the first week.

One of the strategies is to build a huge water park, which enables the resort to have four-season appeal and also plug into the trend of multi-generational vacationing -- mom, dad, kids and the baby-boomer grandparents who are still into travel. And don't mind water park duty while the parents bike or ski.

The water park is under construction. Silver Mountain employees Cathi Jerome and Patrick Johnson graciously gave us a tour and escorted us to one of the condos overlooking the waterpark site. We walked onto the balcony and looked down and it was startling how huge it all seemed. It reminded me of the scene in the movie Jurassic Park when the scientists fly in and suddenly see the elaborate dinosaur park and can't believe what they are looking at.

The Silver Mountain water park project won't end in the chaos that Jurassic Park did, believe me, but the scale of the project seemed different, like nothing I've quite seen in this area before, and a little eerie, too.

It's a huge act of confidence by Jeld-Wen Communities, the company that owns Silver Mountain Resort. They are betting that Silver Mountain -- and Kellogg -- will someday be world-class destinations.

What do you think? A decade from now will Kellogg be the new Vail?

(Tony Wadden photos)

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