There won’t be anymore questions floating around the CSRA like, “Do you think Scuttle’s Island water park will ever open?” or “When do you think Cedar Rock Holdings, LLC will submit its plans for the water park to North Augusta?”
Folks, it’s time to face the facts: North Augusta has a better chance of becoming the first city to relocate to the moon than having a $21.5 million water park constructed off Interstate 20, at exit 5.
Why, you may ask?
This past week, WJBF NewsChannel 6 reporter Mike Miller obtained documents from the United States Bankruptcy Court that showed Cedar Rock Holdings, the company behind Scuttle’s Island, has been asked to file bankruptcy.
“The company’s creditors filed an involuntary petition for bankruptcy last week saying they’re owed nearly $554,000,” Miller reported.
So, not only have the developers never moved an inch of dirt on the land located off exit 5 in North Augusta, which just happens to be owned by an Irish Traveler living in Murphy Village, but the developers also owe creditors more than $550,000.
This appears to be a very sad ending to a project that once caught the attention of many local residents.
People were in love with the idea of a water park, but, even from the very beginning, the project seemed to be on shaky ground.
More than a year ago, former Scuttle’s Island developer Benjamin Bell, alongside Andrew Thompson of Cedar Rock Holdings LLC, announced plans to build a new 40-acre water park in North Augusta by Memorial Day weekend of this year.
The $21.5 million water park would be home to the “tallest water slide in the Southeast,” Bell boasted.
The city of North Augusta immediately bought into the excitement of it all.
“This will be something that families from across the Southeast will be able to enjoy for generations to come,” North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said following the water park announcement in September 2015.
Bell and Thompson pledged they would build the project off Interstate 20, at exit 5 in North Augusta, so the entire region could have easy access to enjoy the water park.
However, as weeks quickly turned into months following Bell’s initial announcement in North Augusta, the public soon realized something was wrong.
There was absolutely no physical movement on the project, which was originally scheduled to open by May of this year.
Finally, in March, local citizens got some answers.
Thompson, speaking on behalf of Cedar Rock Holdings, announced that the opening date for the water park had been pushed back.
But that wasn’t all the news.
Thompson also announced that Cedar Rock Holdings had severed all of its ties with Bell. And, not just with Scuttle’s Island project, but also with the Lights of the South attraction in Grovetown.
Cedar Rock Holdings reportedly owns both businesses and Bell is totally out of the picture.
In recent months, Bell has been struggling with an ongoing legal battle with his ex-wife, Deborah Cheeks. He was even thrown in jail in September on a contempt of court charge relating to almost $35,000 that he was unable to pay.
So, it hasn’t been a very good year for Bell.
But, even with Bell off the project, the big question still remained: Will North Augusta ever see the construction and opening of Scuttle’s Island?
At the time, Thompson insisted the water park would happen.
“We have all intentions to continue the development of the Scuttle’s Island project and do not foresee this barring any plans to move forward on the site,” Thompson told The Augusta Chronicle in a May 19 statement.
However, even North Augusta City Manager Todd Glover seemed skeptical about the project by this summer, but he tried to remain positive.
“I think the best-case scenario is 2017,” he told the media.
Of course, this is the same administrator who late last year truly believed that Scuttle’s Island water park was in North Augusta’s near future.
“At this point, I can say the water park is going to happen,” Glover told the Metro Spirit in November 2015. “It is just a question of when.”
Well, it appears North Augusta now has a lot in common with their friends across the river over in Columbia County.
In 2014, Bell announced that Scuttle’s Island — featuring 20 water slides, a lazy river, a water playground and a gigantic wave pool — would be built on the Lights of the South property along Louisville Road in Grovetown.
But not long after the announcement, Bell began butting heads with the county officials claiming they were being uncooperative.
County officials disagreed, insisting that Bell hadn’t provided a sufficient amount of information regarding his plans.
By April 2015, Bell pulled the plug on the project in Columbia County.
Only a few days later, Bell began bragging that the developers of the water park were being courted by other local municipalities.
The “lucky winner” of the new water park location turned out to be North Augusta.
However, in the end, there are no winners.
North Augusta officials are left with egg on their faces, Bell ended up getting the door slammed in his face by his own partners and Cedar Rock Holdings appears to owe creditors half a million dollars.
And what about the residents of the CSRA?
The public is once again left with no hope of a water park.