Our people have suffered enough. Summer after summer after summer, Broward residents have passed the Hollywood area on I-95, remembering what once was. Not a day goes by that we aren't reminded what has become widely referred to as the Great Stirling Road Injustice of '92. Since the fall of Six Flags Atlantis following Hurricane Andrew more than two decades ago, Broward County has had a void in its heart the size of a major water park.
Finally, news has arrived that a man may be on the verge of filling that hole with his ginormous, wet, slippery Schlitterbahn.
It's about damned time, Broward! We've been trying to get our Schlitterbahn on forever! It's hot, dammit!
The great man behind all this is Jeff Henry, and his Texas-based company is reportedly close to bringing its Schlitterbahn water parks to Fort Lauderdale. Schlitterbahn (German for "slippery road") parks are known for their massive, over-the-top rides that require quite a bit of land. The deal to build the newest location in Broward has been in the works for five years while all particulars were being worked out. The park will be located on a 64-acre site that includes Lockhart Stadium near I-95 and Commercial Boulevard.
"It'll be the biggest and baddest park we've ever built," Jeff Henry, whose family owns the Texas-based company, told the Sun Sentinel. The park will have "groundbreaking technology that we've yet to apply anywhere else," he said. "Some of it is very, very cool."
Schliterrbahns are so much more than some rinky-dink water park; they are the standard that water parks around the country aspire to be. The new Fort Lauderdale park is expected to mirror other locations (four in Texas, one in Kansas City) and, as the Sentinel explained, include water slides, wave pools, and treehouse-style hotel rooms.
"It'll probably be the best water park that's ever been built," Henry told the Sun Sentinel. "It's my last one probably."
The last hurdle that stood between Broward County and water park redemption was Schlitterbahn and the City of Fort Lauderdale getting clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to agree that the property isn't needed for future airport expansion. Once the FAA notified it everything was a go, the city was free to buy the airport land and now must pay a $1.3 million payment on the $12.1 million purchase before August 1. Once that payment is made, Fort Lauderdale is water-park golden.
"Once we sign the lease, we are committed," Joe Cerrone told the Sentinel. He's the president of Recreational Design & Construction, which will team with Schlitterbahn on the project. If all goes as planned, Cerrone anticipates a 2018 grand opening.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.