April 26, 2008 in City

Taking water to the mountaintop

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Construction workers build the river and the center island Friday at Silver Rapids park in Kellogg.
(Full-size photo)

KELLOGG – The developers of Silver Mountain Resort say they want to transform Idaho’s Silver Valley from a “Superfund Site to a Super Fun Site.”

But if you’re a local, you may never get a chance to play in the super-fun water park they’re building.

Silver Rapids indoor water park – set to open May 30 – is the latest effort to turn the home of the world’s longest gondola into a year-round destination, said Stuart Woolley, executive vice president for resort developer JELD-WEN Communities.

The exclusive water park was built to draw people to the resort’s high-end Morning Star Lodge condominiums, which can be purchased or rented for vacations.

Though the resort will sell some group admissions, the water park will not generally be open to the public.

“The best way to play in the water park is to stay in the Morning Star Lodge,” said Mark Needles, a real estate specialist with the resort.

Condo owners get a discount on admission, and the resort plans to offer “stay and play” packages.

There might still be snow on the mountain when the 42,000-square- foot water park opens, but park Manager Chris Stuart said visitors will find summer any time of year at Silver Rapids.

The air will be kept at 84 degrees inside – two degrees warmer than the lazy river winding around Miner’s Island, past the FlowRider Surf Wave, a toddlers’ play area and other splashy features.

Construction crews are still working inside Silver Rapids, but during a media tour Friday, Stuart said the park will be ready to open May 30.

Silver Mountain hails the FlowRider as the centerpiece of the water park.

The riding surface is actually Kevlar-reinforced fabric with a 2-inch-deep sheet of water shooting across the top at 35 mph.

Stuart said the water park is designed for swimmers and nonswimmers alike, with no water deeper than 4 feet and special play areas for children and toddlers.

The seven water slides will include two tube slides large enough for visitors to ride in pairs and a third family-size slide with rafts holding as many as four people.

A second-story mezzanine includes a bar and two hot tubs for adults.

Silver Mountain General Manager Jeff Colburn said Silver Rapids is the only water park at a ski resort in the West.

He contends the resort offers the best “of snow and water activities for vacationers.”

The resort takes credit for “single-handedly” reviving the economy in the depressed mining community, where taxpayers have spent millions cleaning up a massive Superfund site caused by contamination from mining and smelter waste.

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