Ground Broken For New Theme Park In Waterloo [PHOTOS]
When Gary and Becky Bertch opened the Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo 18 years ago, they envisioned building a theme park sometime in the future.
The Bertch's began physical work on developing their idea in 2009. Now, a decade later, the dream is very close to becoming a reality.
Developers, city officials and community leaders were among the local dignitaries who gathered in a bean field across from the water park Friday afternoon for a ceremony to symbolically break ground on the new Lost Island Theme Park. Plans for the $100 million project were made public about five weeks ago.
"It gives good visibility to the Cedar Valley in general, not just Waterloo," Gary Bertch said. "Synergy is great. Hopefully, this will stimulate additional development and help grow the area."
"This project is huge for us personally and I think it's a pretty significant one for the community as well," Gary Bertch said. "One of the major motivations that generated the idea for the park grew out of our desire to help enhance tourism and quality of life in Waterloo, the Cedar Valley and state of Iowa.
"This is going to be both an exciting and challenging project," Bertch continued. "We look forward to bringing the park to life on opening day in 2022."
According to Lost Island Water Park General Manager Eric Bertch, the new theme park will be developed into five different mythical lands that will include a 30-acre lake. He said there will be a variety of rides and attractions designed to immerse guests in the elements and backstories of the different lands, which can only be found at the Lost Island Theme Park.
"It's incredible when people can take a look at a field and you can dream," Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart said. "Taking a look at a field of crops, you can see the possibilities that can be realized. We are so thrilled today to realize that vision and many years of thinking about what this project will mean."
Hart continued: "We wish the Bertch family nothing but success. The city of Waterloo is here for you and we support you."
Although the ground-breaking took place on Friday, the actual start of construction is likely still more than a week away. According to Eric Bertch, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has to approve the project before any development begins. He said the DNR must first determine what impact the planned 30-acre lake will have on flooding in the area.
The theme park will be developed on 45-acres of land, adjacent to the 30-acre lake. Eric Bertch said the land being used for the project is 210-acres, which means there will be room for future expansion.
Developing the Lost Island Theme Park has been a much talked-about topic since the plans were announced in July.
"This is absolutely incredible and it's one of the biggest and tremendous projects we've ever had come to this city," Mayor Hart said. "The city of Waterloo, over the past several years, has seen incredible growth and incredible change. If you tie-in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, you're looking at over a quarter-of-a-billion dollars of economic investment to our local community yearly.
"This will give opportunity for people to see the Cedar Valley for the great place we are," Hart said. "Yes, it's a Cedar Valley-Waterloo project, but it's also the state of Iowa and entire Midwest. The hope is to attract people from all over the country to come here."