TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Many projects and new additions to the city are on the horizon for Terre Haute, one of which could be a water park and sports complex.
The Wabash Regional Development Authority recently announced which projects the $20 million in READI Grant funds would be going toward.
$50,000 is being awarded to a feasibility study for the possible complex.
“The READI Grant was the first opportunity to apply for funds for that particular project so it’s kind of two pieces. One is an athletic facility that would have a variety of baseball, softball fields, and those kinds of things. The other half would then be the water park facility so they would be kind of co-located but be two different tourist destinations,” Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said.
Bennett said originally, they were hoping to see more money from the READI Grant and be able to have more go toward this project.
“We were going to do a feasibility study anyway, you have to do that just like we did on the convention center, we want to make sure it makes fiscal sense to bring something like that. It’ll be supported, where do the people come from, those kinds of things,” Bennett said.
He explained this idea came about a few years ago because people in the community kept asking, “well why can’t we have something like that here?” Bennett said this project would be a way to attract tourists and give more people a reason to move here.
“Our goal is to make the community more attractive, not only to our local residents but to our visitors so it has to do with the tourism component of our community plan, it has to do with our quality of life, quality of place initiatives that we’re trying to do,” Bennett said.
He said the first step is to get a consultant out here in the next few months who would do the feasibility study.
“They’ll come and talk to people in our community, they will do all the research on the competitors that are out there, where the market, where the people would come from, what the volume is, the utilization potentially and they’ll come back and tell us ‘yeah this makes sense for Terre Haute or ‘no it doesn’t make sense and we believe that it does but you have to prove that,” Bennett said.
Bennett said ideally, this project would be something that is beneficial for both tourists and current residents.
Rachael Spencer, a Terre Haute resident and a mom of 9, said because Deming Park is currently the only public pool in our area, the complex would be a great addition to the city.
“If you have kids of multi-ages like I do, there’s no kiddy pool there so there’s no way you can sit and let a little kid play and splash and have fun,” Spencer said.
She also added that she has traveled out of the area quite a bit for her children’s sporting events, and the athletic aspect of the complex could take some stress off of parents’ plates.
“I have two kids who play travel soccer so we’ve been over to Westfield, the Grand Park numerous times for soccer games and you just think about the revenue that brings in especially for multi-day events, staying in hotels, people are buying food, so I think it would be huge for our local economy,” Spencer said.
Bennett said the city hopes to get a consultant to conduct the feasibility study in the next few months. After that, it could take anywhere from 90-180 days to complete.
He said he hopes to know by the beginning of 2023 if Terre Haute will be moving forward with this project, based on the findings from the feasibility study.