Paperwork has been filed with the Town of Porter seeking zoning approval to
re-open shuttered Splash Down Dunes, perhaps even this year.
Seven Peaks Waterpark Porter LC, a new corporation formed for the venture,
is seeking a use variance to operate a water park/amusement center at the
northeast corner of U.S. 20 and Waverly Road.
A principal in Seven Peaks is Gary Brinton of Utah, who’s been involved with
water parks and other development there.
After 16 years of operation, Splash Down Dunes has sat idle since 2009
following a host of problems over Health Department and town building-code
violations, disputes with neighbors and infighting between former owner Paul
Childress and investor Fred Pearson.
Real estate attorney Elka Nelson said Brinton is under contract with
Pearson, now the park’s sole owner, and Pearson submittted a letter to the
town authorizing Seven Peaks as part of its due diligence for the sale to
file for the needed variance.
Nelson is also a Porter Town Council member. Because her firm handled the
sale and she is the principal broker on the deal, she said she will recuse
herself on any zoning matters related to the water park.
Research for the sale led to the discovery of zoning-map irregularities for
Splash Down Dunes and potentially other commercial properties in that area.
The Town Council will address the matter tonight. According to president
Greg Stinson, “These parcels were zoned (planned unit development) when
everything was done a number of years ago. However, the paperwork was never
filed with the county. As a result, the filing time requirement elapsed and
the current map needs to be updated.”
That effort will begin with the Porter Plan Commission and include a
required public hearing.
Exactly one year ago Brinton expressed an interest in acquiring Splash Down
Dunes. Nelson said she believes he was discouraged from proceeding at that
time because as part of the Porter Gateway redevelopment project, an
indoor/outdoor water park is proposed near the Porter County Visitor Center
on Indiana 49.
In 2007 Childress said he wanted to build an indoor water park on 14 acres
he owned on the west side of Waverly Road behind the Splash Down Dunes
parking lot; after pressure from neighbors and questions from town
officials, the land was platted for townhomes instead.
A decade ago published news accounts reported on financial dealings
involving Brinton in Utah. Nelson said she is satisfied that the venture
planned for Porter “will absolutely be a good project for the town.”