Seven Peaks Water Park may be a nice place to cool down, but the park's neighbors are hot over resort traffic spilling onto 300 North.
The latest round in deteriorating relations between the park and residents on 300 North occurred Monday evening when park owner Victor Borcherds and water park security guards removed barricades that were supposed to keep resort traffic off 300 North except during emergencies. A heated confrontation ensued when nearby residents tried to stop Borcherds from opening the street to park traffic.Several people said during Tuesday's City Council meeting that Borcherds had threatened them and ordered security guards to physically remove those who were blocking traffic.
"I heard him tell them (guards) to push us out of the way and for the cars to run over us," Larry Campbell, who lives on 300 North near the park, said in an interview Wednesday. Mike Wardinsky, who also lives on 300 North near the park, said he heard guards threaten several people.
Borcherds remembers otherwise.
"That is the most asinine statement in the whole world. Those neighbors are out to lunch," he said. "Everybody was hot and screaming and shouting. But I did not do it (open 300 North) illegally. I did it with permission."
Mayor Joe Jenkins and city officials met Wednesday with Borcherds to iron out problems. Jenkins confirmed that Community Development Director Leland Gamette had granted Borcherds permission to open 300 North to alleviate traffic congestion created by 8,000 people leaving the park at around 8:30 p.m. The street was not opened because of people fleeing a liquid chlorine spill as some residents were told.
The spill, which happened at about 5 p.m. and was cleaned up within a half-hour, involved a diluted 10 percent solution. Some of it ended up in city drains but posed no danger.
"The problem was that we hadn't set up who really had authority to do that (open 300 North)," Jenkins said following Wednesday's meeting. "He (Borcherds) was told this morning very forcefully that the gate (installed Tuesday night by Seven Peaks) will be opened by a police officer only in any emergency situation."
Jenkins said either 700 North or 450 North eventually will tie into the park, providing alternative routes to and from the resort in addition to the main entrance from Center Street.
Because Monday night was the third time this summer Seven Peaks allowed traffic from the park onto 300 North, residents say, they don't trust Borcherds and worry about his plans to expand the resort.
"I'm very concerned with it in the respect that he is doing things to the entire neighborhood in an entirely underhanded manner," Campbell said. "We don't want neighbors we can't trust."
Melanie Aiono, whose home at 1110 E. 300 North borders a new Seven Peaks parking lot west of the resort, said she has been waiting more than a month for crews to repair a fence they damaged while putting in the lot. She's also growing impatient over Seven Peaks' promises to put in landscaping and a berm around the lot.
"I just think that if they make promises to the people, they should live up to those promises," she said. "But big money always wins over in the residential areas."
Borcherds said Seven Peaks will live up to its responsibilities. In his defense, he said, the resort hasn't always been able to control people leaving the park and many have disregarded the barricade on 300 North, driving around it or through it. The barricade installed Tuesday - a chain-link fence - will prevent that from happening again.
"But no matter what I do I will always be wrong," Borcherds said. "I accept that."