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Commission recommends approval of 25-acre water park

By Andra Lim - American-Statesman Staff



A city commission that previously said it had too many questions to sign off on zoning for a $21.5 million water and adventure park waved it through after a second round of discussion.

At its Monday night meeting, the Pflugerville Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended that the city council approve zoning for the 25-acre Hawaiian Falls park, which is slated to break ground at the corner of Highway 130 and FM 685 at the end of October.

“Generally, we’re excited to have the park come on board,” said commission chair Thomas Anker.

Commissioners emphasized the economic impact of the park — estimated to bring $700 million to the city over 30 years — noting that hotels and other businesses are likely to follow it to Pflugerville.

Hawaiian Falls, which would be open year-round, will feature water slides, a wave pool, a river and ziplines in a landscape including palm trees and lava rock. During the winter months, the wave pool will be used for rafting and the river will be used for kayaking, said Floyd Akers, executive director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, which works with the city.

At their September meeting, commissioners tabled taking any action on the park after requesting more information on traffic flow on streets adjacent to the park, as well as its water usage.

Omega Baker, a Pflugerville resident who spoke at the October meeting, said she was concerned that a water park is coming when the state is in the middle of a drought, and the city has implemented Stage 3 water restrictions.

“The water situation is getting worse, not better,” Baker said. “Where is this water going to come from?”

Hawaiian Falls would use 10 million gallons of regular drinking water supplied by the City of Pflugerville each year, and would purify and recycle 70 percent of the water on-site. In future years, the park could draw on untreated well water, Akers said.

The development corporation also contracted a transportation group to do a traffic impact analysis to address commissioners’ concerns about the flow of cars on FM 685, which runs adjacent to the site. Two branches of FM 685 merge near the park, creating a stretch of road where some cars will be trying to change lanes, while others are trying to turn in or out of the park.

Anker said he is confident that city staff can find a way to successfully accommodate traffic flow near the park.

Originally, the city was going to take out about $21 million in bonds to pay for the park. Money would go to the park’s developer, Horizon Family Holdings, through the development corporation. The developer would be responsible for paying the money back.

Now, officials are considering scrapping the bonds and privately financing the park instead, Akers said.

City council will consider zoning for the park at future meetings, Anker said. The city has already approved a slate of economic development agreements for the park, Akers said.

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