Could closing Ford plant become a water park?

WALTON HILLS -- It might be in the single digits outside, but some local communities are getting their bathing suits ready.

A brand new indoor water park could be heading to the Cleveland area.

The mayor of Walton Hills isn't confirming or denying it yet but told Channel 3 news Monday that it's "absolutely a possibility" a major indoor water park could eventually be replacing the Ford plant on Northfield Road.

The rumor mill is going strong in the area, and most people are in favor of the potential development.

"The kids need something to do in the winter time," Walton Hills resident Richard Frank said. "The parents do, too, 'Let's go to the water park, the water park!'"

Even just the idea of an indoor water park in Walton Hills might be the answer to the winter blues, especially when the subzero temperatures are lasting into March and the Ford plant is scheduled to close in June.

"The Ford plant is a big blow to everyone who owns houses here," Frank said. "But we're happy to hear about the water park, it's a big boost for us. "

It could mean a big boost for local businesses, too, like Spennato's. The owner said he hopes the rumors are true.

"I think it will be very good for the area. It would be a destination for people to come," Egidio Dipaola, the owner of Spennato's, said.

That's exactly how the mayor of Northfield, Jesse Nehez, feels. As a neighbor to Walton Hills just right down the road and home of the Hard Rock Rocksino, he thinks an indoor water park is the perfect fit for the area. With Sandusky and Erie being the other closest indoor water parks, the idea is people can save money on travel costs and spend it locally instead.

"It makes us more of a vacation destination," Nehez said. "The more people we can bring into this area, the more we can upgrade Route 8 with the traffic counts, with the beautification efforts, everything. It's just extremely important that this goes through."

There are more than 100 acres available on the Ford plant property, and there's been a lot of interest. Nehez thinks an indoor water park will start a of wave of economic development

"There's no telling what could happen next, so it's exciting," Nehez said.

The plans are in the early stages, and there's no word yet on which water park might be interested.

Kalahari told Channel 3 news it has not expressed interest in the property and is not discussing a purchase of the land.

Splash Lagoon and Great Wolf Lodge didn't return our calls.


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