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Cowabunga Bay could be completed by Memorial Day

As Henderson residents, developers Shawn Hassett and Ben Howell said their families have gone too long without having a water park, which they believe would offer relief from the heat and family-friendly entertainment during the summer.

The Las Vegas Valley has been devoid of water parks since 2004 and the four-hour car rides to California attractions for summer reprieve weren’t cutting it for their families, Hassett said.

"There are only so many times you can swim in the pool," Hassett said.

Hassett said he waited for another developer to bring something to the area.

Finally, Hassett and Howell decided to join forces with Huish Entertainment Group to develop a water park in Henderson.

Cowabunga Bay broke ground Dec. 4 and is scheduled to be open by Memorial Day weekend.

"I am just really excited to have something for my family to do during the summer months instead of going stir crazy," Hassett said.

The $23 million park is expected to feature more than 30 attractions on 23 acres of land near the U.S. Highway 95 and Galleria Drive.

"Today, all you see is rocks and dirt," said Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen. "But we are just a few months away from endless hours of family fun."

Attractions include the Surf-A-Rama Wave Pool, a 35,000-square-foot wave pool; Cowabunga Splash, a water play structure with six stories of bridges, tunnels, net climb and water toys; and Wild Surf, where four-person rafts are thrown back and forth several times by man-made waves before exiting.

The upcoming park features three areas, including Aloha Shores, which pays tribute to Hawaiian beaches; Surf City U.S.A., which is reminiscent of ’50s beach-centered movies; and The Boardwalk, which represents seaside beaches from New Jersey and California.

Hassett and Howell went before the Henderson Planning Commission to purchase the land in November 2011.

After that, they searched for the right investor to match their vision. Hassett said he was looking for a developer with family entertainment experience.

Earlier this year, Hassett and Howell were scoping out water parks when they visited a Cowabunga Bay.

Shane Huish, one of the owners of Cowabunga Bay, noticed the duo looking around the park and approached them.

Hassett and Howell mentioned they were looking to open a water park in Henderson, sparking Huish’s interest.

"It is all about location, location, location," Huish said. "We hit the jackpot. This site is ideal."

Huish Entertainment Group, which owns Cowabunga Bay, has been providing family-centered attractions for more than 50 years.

Huish added that the company has always wanted to break into the Las Vegas market because of its lack of entertainment options for the family.

"It’s a no-brainer," Huish said.

This isn’t the first time Huish Entertainment Group said it was able to pull off a fast construction schedule.

Huish said in February 2009, the company began construction on a Cowabunga Bay in Utah. It opened by June 2009.

As a mom, Sarah Howell, developer Ben Howell’s wife, said it is nice to finally have another option for the children to do during the summers.

"This is a dream come true," Sarah Howell said. "We finally have something to make summers more bearable."

The development should have a positive economic impact, Hassett said.

He estimates that several hundred jobs will be created for construction and the park will have about 500 seasonal employees.

The park is expected to be open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. After Labor Day, Huish said it should be open on weekends through October.

Hassett said the company is still figuring out daily rates.

Season passes are available online for $69.95.

The proposed Wet ‘n Wild Las Vegas water park is also expected to open Memorial Day weekend in the southwest valley.

"The market is big enough for two," Huish said.

The former Wet ‘n Wild closed in 2004.

For more information, visit cowabungabay.com.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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