The Pooler City Council approved an infrastructure site plan Monday night for the proposed water park on Towne Center Drive off Benton Boulevard.
Approval of the site plan clears the way for construction, which could start as soon as this month, said project manager Dan Fischer of Savannah-based EMC Engineering Services. That would set up a May or April 2014 opening, he said, for the much anticipated water park.
The project will be the newest attraction to the Pooler Towne Center entertainment complex, which includes the IMAX movie theater, a roller-skating rink and a bowling alley. The cost estimate has been reduced to approximately $7 million from a previous estimate of $10 million.
Jay Patel of BPR Properties, the developer, confirmed Monday that an issue with financing, along with the approval of plans, was a primary factor in construction getting pushed back.
"With any development there can be setbacks and hurdles," said Patel, who attended the meeting. "We continuously face those challenges in development. As the economy improves we can move faster with the development and get the park going."
The council approved the site plan in a 4-0 vote. Council members Bruce Allen and Shannon Black were absent.
The existing water and sewer main will need to be extended into the property at the developer's own expense, said Fischer.
"Since it will be the main line, a portion of it would be dedicated to the city in an easement," he said.
As many as 1,000 people are projected to visit the park daily.
Patel said the location just off Interstate 95 and Pooler Parkway, where new restaurants, stores and businesses are continuously sprouting up, offered the best site for such a project.
"This is the growing area of the county; the growing area of the Greater Savannah area," Patel said. "This location is ideal for that we think."
Plans for the park include a lazy river, water slides, a spray deck, a pool for small children, beach areas and possibly a surf machine.
Monday's vote did not include approval of the proposed parking lot.
Roughly half of the 10-acre site, which has room for expansion, will be devoted to parking. The project is required to provide 250 parking spaces, one space for every four visitors, and 347 have been provided in current plans.
However, about 16 parking spaces that belong to the adjacent theater will be affected by the park project and a proposed "encroachment agreement letter" is supposed to guarantee replacement spaces. But city staff on Monday requested a more official agreement.
Shared parking between the theater and park has been prohibited.
"It's good to see this move along because this is something that has been talked about for a long time," Mayor Mike Lamb said.