Thursday, November 01, 2007

News---'Canon balls' Return to Gettysburg: Water Park Better Than Casino?

Water Park Proposed Near Gettysburg Battlefield, T.W. Burger, The Patriot-News, 10/31/07 and updated: 11/01/07

A few months after a plan to build a slots casino in Gettysburg went was defeated, a Mechanicsburg-based developer is considering building a water park in southern Adams County, once again raising questions about what fits and what doesn’t fit near the historic battlefield. A Mechanicsburg couple wants to build an indoor water park and theater in pasture land about 4 miles south of the 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Military Park. The proposed water park site lies along Cunningham Road, adjacent to the Boyd’s Bear Country store in Cumberland Twp. Cali Entertainment, owned by Pete and Peg Califano, has asked the township to change zoning language to permit theme parks and amusement park rides in a mixed-use district, which is how the land is zoned.

“There is going to be a 400-suite themed hotel, an 85,000-square-foot indoor water park, a 7,000-seat indoor theater with skyboxes, and eight acres of lush gardens and fountains. We’re very excited,” Peg Califano said. David Waybright, vice chairman of the Cumberland Twp. Board of Supervisors, said it will be a couple of months before the board makes a decision on the zoning request. The 200-acre indoor water park would change the rolling landscape of the area and become Hersheypark’s closest competitor. Jim Paddock, a landscape architect who serves on Cumberland Twp.’s planning commission, said Wednesday that the proposed park would be larger than Hersheypark, which sits on 110 acres. Garrett Gallia, director of corporate relations for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, said Hershey has “always viewed healthy competition as good for the regional economy and residents of central Pennsylvania. More attractions mean more visitors for the region.”

Paddock said he is not opposed to the idea of an amusement park generally, but thinks the township should limit the size of Cali Entertainment’s plan. He also questions whether the area is the right venue. It is a familiar position for the Paddock family. Last year, Paddock and his wife, Susan Starr Paddock, were driving forces behind the successful push to keep a casino from being built near Gettysburg. Cali Entertainment has not filed any formal plans for the water park. The developers have shown concept plans at some public meetings. Paddock said he thinks a water park is “out of character” with what Gettysburg is all about.

“The battle is the only reason Gettysburg is famous, and people come here to get a sense of that battle,” he said. Cali Entertainment’s plan has evolved from an outdoor amusement park to an indoor facility, Waybright said. After the plan changed from an outdoor park to an indoor one, the board realized that the township had no language in its ordinance to control how that would be done, he said. “We hired a consultant, and what we’re considering is putting wording in that would set all the design standards that a facility like that would fall under,” he said.

Waybright said he realizes there are people opposed to the water park, but he figures they wouldn’t like anything else that might go in under the multi-use zoning, either. “A lot of them would like to see it stay open fields,” he said. “So would I. But the people who own that land are going to build something there, and they have a right to do that.”

Staff writer Barry Fox contributed to this report.

CWL reflects: Investment capital was betting on slot machines a year ago, now it is betting on water slides. Compare: the casino was 24/7/365, the water slide park will be seasonal; gamblers were much less likely to visit Gettysburg National Military Park than families using the water park are; the casino was for those 18 years and above and the water park is for all ages. If Boyd's Country Bears store does not sully the memory of the battle then neither will near naked people doing canon balls in a pool. Isn't that done already in the hotel pools on Steinwehr Street?

1 comment:

Meadowlark said...

I applaud your comments. I am a resident in the immediate "impact" area. I moved my family here to enjoy the peace, quiet, generally intelligent and sane populace, contribute to the community and above all, to enjoy the battlefields in their quiet and contemplative state that my ancestors fought bravely on. Now, I find my regular self in a fight for our very existence. Mixed uses zoning does NOT include amusement parks in any other jurisdiction in the country! These development ideas are relegated to industrial areas typically. This scourge has infiltrated our area and now threatens the Fredericksburg VA Battlefield - see new headlines/regional for MD/DC/VA.

Cali Entertainment has never done a project like this before so they have NO experience in this realm.
For the record, Cali bought the Ling Farm which sits next to the Cunningham Road Bridge; it is part of the plan for this place - a parking lot - yeah, a 100+ year old farm will be a parking lot. Joni Mitchell had it right afterall eh? Join me in fighting this with my neighbors and friends in both Cumberland and Freedom Townships. Someone has got to listen to us and act upon our concerns. Isn't the Township the one in a Commonwealth that is to weild the most control over their individual destinies? Or am I wrong?
Stephanie Mendenhall