WATERLOO — The first dirt was shoveled away in preparation for Waterloo’s newest attraction.
Cedar Valley local leaders attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Lost Island Theme Park across the street from the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo and Lost Island Waterpark.
Earlier this month the Waterloo City Council voted to rezone 159 acres of farm land along Shaulis Road for the estimated $100 million project proposed by Gary and Becky Bertch.
The park, which the Bertches hope to open in the summer of 2022, will be located just south of the Lost Island Waterpark and Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo.
“This is a huge project for us personally, and I think it’s a pretty significant one for the community as well,” said Gary Bertch prior to the groundbreaking. “We started dreaming, planning and working on this idea more than 10 years ago.”
The project went through a smooth rezoning process after being unveiled in early July.
The park will be divided into five different “lands” and will include a 30-acre lake.
“This is going to be both an exciting and challenging project, and we look forward to bringing the park to life,” said Gary Bertch.
A large crowd of purple Grow Cedar Valley jackets were present at the celebration. Snacks from the nearby Lost Island Water Park were served to attendees, including shaved iced.
Eric Bertch, Lost Island general manager, was excited and scared at the same time about the size and scope of the project.
“We’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now,” said Eric Bertch. “We’re waiting on a permit from (the Iowa Department of Natural Resources).”
He doesn’t expect the the DNR to deny their permit.
“As soon as we get that DNR permit, we’d like to truly turn some dirt and turn this whole site into a construction zone instead of bean field,” Eric Bertch said. “We’re chomping at the bit to get going.”
The timeline to open the park in 2022 is a tight one, said Eric Bertch.
Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart also was excited to be a step closer to construction of the theme park.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the entire state of Iowa and the Cedar Valley,” said Hart. “This theme park is going to one the best attractions that we have for our local Cedar Valley. It’s going be job creation. It’s going to be tourism creation. It’s just one more opportunity that we have to attract people to our community.”
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