Lake County Envisions Fairport Harbor Indoor Waterpark

Fairport Harbor aerial view from 2005 Lake County Coastal Development Plan
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Land that was once used to store limestone and sand for making concrete could become an indoor water park. 

It’s part of a coastal development plan first envisioned in 2005.  But it’s taken a dozen years to move forward with the plan in Fairport Harbor because until June, the money wasn’t there.  That is, until Lake County voted to increase its hotel bed tax from 3% to 5%.  The extra $500,000 annual income is earmarked specifically for development within a mile of the Lake Erie shoreline. 

“I’m very clear at least in my own opinion that since we’re using a very specific tax to fund these activities, that these activities are going to be things that have a return,” says Lake County Commissioner Jerry Cerino.  He says they’ve approved the Port Authority’s plan to purchase about eight acres of lakefront land next to the Grand River.

“​If we can execute on the idea of an indoor water park, Fairport would suddenly become a year-round destination point.”

Together with about 10 acres of existing public land, the plot would be leased to develop a 300-400 room hotel as well as a promenade along the river and likely a public park at the north end of the pier.  

But due diligence comes first.  And according to the Port Authority’s Mark Rantala, first they need to make sure a thousand feet of underwater sheet pilings supporting the riverbank are in good condition.

“Because they’ve been in place since at least WWII,” says Rantala, “we want to make sure that they’re in good condition so that they would support development on the property.”

The Port Authority plans to ask for development proposals next month.

Rantala says the project should also stimulate redevelopment in downtown Fairport.

“We expect that as this project goes forward that those shops will be redeveloped and kind of create a larger destination for tourism and locals as well.”​

The Port Authority will sell bonds to finance the $4 million land purchase.  Rantala estimates construction could begin in 2019 and completed in 2021.

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