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Home Travel Northport’s $350 million ‘University Beach’ water park development sparks concerns

Northport’s $350 million ‘University Beach’ water park development sparks concerns

by Staff

The City Council of Northport approved the first step toward an ambitious $350 million water park development Monday night, with plans for everything from hotels to a lazy river to rentable private islands.

The council approved entering into an agreement with a Texas developer for the two-plus phase project. The vote came during a three-hour meeting, which was livestreamed, and drew a large, at times contentious crowd.

The 11.73-acre “University Beach” project calls for a lake and sand beach, a waterfall, five slides, a floating obstacle course, with paddleboard and kayak rentals, on property currently owned by the city off U.S. 82.

The developer looks to acquire another 85.61 adjacent acres.

Eventually, the project would encompass 10,000 square feet of indoor dining, a concert venue, two hotels, restaurant and retail space. There would also be 64 single-family residences surrounding the development.

The Northport City Council approved a $350 million water park Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.

Residents who spoke at the meeting brought up several objections to the project, such as its effect on the environment, drainage, traffic, property values, noise pollution and the size of the project.

Some commenters during the meeting drew applause for their words.

Tommy Williams, a resident in Shirley Farms, said he’s lived in the community his entire life. “I don’t know if any of y’all live in that area we’re talking about developing into this park, but I hope and pray that each of y’all who vote on this think about it and pray about it,” he said.

Kirk Patterson, who lives about a mile from the proposed site, said the city has already spent about $3 million on the project, which does not resemble a smaller, city-owned project the city had discussed last year.

“This just is ungodly out of the picture from what everybody’s been led to believe,” Patterson said. “It’s not a good investment for the city of Northport. I think everybody’s going to wind up regretting this, and it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Misty Cadell, who lives in Providence Place, said she isn’t sure how she feels about the project. She said she wants family attractions in the area for her two small children, but at $30 to $35 per person admission, the price isn’t practically affordable.

“This has the potential to price out a lot of people who would enjoy it,” she said.

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