Emma Pichelmayer

Good Hope Elementary's Emma Pichelmayer takes one of the first public rides on the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center's new 40-foot tube slide Saturday afternoon.

Add a wave pool and more water slides to the Wild Water play area at the Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center. By summer of next year, the outdoor water area at Cullman’s municipal fitness complex will have more than doubled in size, thanks to a newly-announced major expansion set to grow Wild Water into a proper full-scale recreation destination for swimmers.

The Cullman City Council on Monday approved the awarding of bids to expand the recreation area to Indiana-based design & build firm Weber Group alongside New York-based water park specialists Aquatic Development Group (ADG), as well as Canadian equipment specialists Proslide Technology, Inc., all to expand Wild Water outward onto a tract of contiguous land covering more than 2 additional acres.

In addition to the new wave pool, which Cullman Park & Recreation director Zac Wood estimated will cover between 14,000 and 16,000 square feet, the expansion also will add a massive tower complex that houses at least four new water slides. Wood said the project, all of which will be outdoors, is expected to be finished by May of 2022.

The project is expected to cost approximately $10 million. City Council member Clint Hollingsworth took a moment during Monday’s meeting to address recreational spending on that kind of scale (in addition to a nearly $30 million long-term bond issue the city entered into Monday for construction of a new civic complex.)

“People ask, ‘Why are you spending money on this?’” instead of road infrastructure and other essential services, said Hollingsworth. “In order for us to be able to do the things we do [with essential infrastructure]…we have to have revenue.

“These things are going to be instrumental in bringing people to Cullman” to enrich local tax revenues through sales and lodging taxes, he added.

Current CWAC guests, including those splashing this summer in the existing Wild Water area, shouldn’t be affected by the upcoming construction. Wood said the expansion will extend eastward onto existing property that adjoins the old Marvin’s hardware center, and that it won’t hinder the flow of guest traffic to and from the current facility.

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