Irvine will hold exclusive talks with Wild Rivers to open at Great Park

By Lou Ponsi

IRVINE — A 30-acre water park, complete with an uphill water coaster, water slides and lazy river, is a step closer to making a monumental splash at the Orange County Great Park.

The Irvine City Council, acting as the Orange County Great Park board, on Tuesday, June 27, approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with Wild Rivers, LLC, to build and operate the water park at the Great Park. Wild Rivers would be in the 250-acre Cultural Terrace, in the southeast portion of the park.

Once a popular summer attraction in Irvine, Wild Rivers closed in 2011 after 25 years in the city, when the lease with the Irvine Co. ran out, giving way to the Los Olivos apartment complex.

Exclusive negotiating agreements are common in partnerships involving significant projects, a staff report noted, and a first step in moving negotiations forward for major projects. Mayor Donald Wagner and council members Melissa Fox and Christina Shea voted in favor of the agreement. Lynn Schott and Jeffrey Lalloway were absent.

The next step, due to be completed in the fall, involves preliminary site planning and first draft of a lease. That phase, which could be completed by summer 2018, involves an environmental review of the site and final lease agreement.

Construction could also begin by summer 2018 and the water park could be open by summer 2019, the staff report said.
Wild Rivers CEO Mike Riedel first approached city officials about moving to the Great Park the year Wild Rivers closed. Last year, rather than granting Wild Rivers a no-bid contract, the council decided to seek more proposals.

Two proposals were submitted, including one that consisted of three separate water parks.The parks would have been: Wild Rivers; a 20- to 25-acre rafting and kayaking whitewater park by Western Whitewater Works and S20 Design and Engineering; and a 15-acre surfing lake by Surfloch.

After the second proposal didn’t meet the city’s requirements, the council approved a motion to go forward with the Wild Rivers proposal.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…
PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Krauss