Cost of Farmington water park has increased to $8.2 million

City officials blame tariffs for additional expenses

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Construction continues at the future Bisti Bay Water Park Monday in Farmington's Brookside Park.
  • Construction bids for the project came back about 20 percent higher than estimated.
  • The city also had to do additional work on utilities and a retaining wall for the project.
  • The current budget for the water park is more than $8.28 million.

FARMINGTON — Farmington officials say recent tariffs put in place by President Donald Trump have contributed to the increase in cost of building the Bisti Bay Water Park.

Farmington initially approved refinancing bonds to provide $6 million to design and construct the water park.

"We felt pretty good with that," said Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative director Cory Styron during a city council meeting Tuesday morning. "And then all of the saber rattling about tariffs and our local construction economy kicked up."

Styron said city officials were shocked when the bids for construction came back about 20 percent higher than estimated. He and assistant city manager Julie Baird delivered a presentation to the City Council about the project this morning.

In addition to the increased cost brought on by the tariffs, the city also had to do additional work on utilities and a retaining wall for the project. Styron said that cost in the neighborhood of an additional $40,000.

Styron said the city took $1 million of refinanced bond money from its planned river trails expansion project to fund the increased cost of the water park and also added an additional $1 million to the project. The additional money likely will come from the Community Transformation and Economic Development fund, which was created earlier this year when the council approved an increase in the gross receipts tax.

The current budget for the water park is more than $8.28 million.

Bisti Bay intended to replace 60-year-old pool

“There’s a lot riding on the success of this project,” Mayor Nate Duckett said during today's meeting.

The Bisti Bay Water Park is being built to replace the Brookside Pool, which was closed due to health and safety concerns. Closing the pool created controversy partially because of the nostalgia connected to the approximately 60-year-old facility. Duckett said it will be bad if the city oversells the Bisti Bay Water Park, and the community does not get what it wants.

Water park scheduled to open Memorial Day

Due to the increased costs, Styron said some features had to be cut from the water park, but the city now is adding a few of those features back in. The City Council asked for the water-heating equipment to be added back into the project. That will cost about $85,000, according to Styron.

The budget for the planned Bisti Bay Water Park in Farmington's Brookside Park has climed to more than $8 million.

The water park is 40 percent complete, and the city has spent about $3.3 million on the project so far, according to Styron.

The water park is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend and will include two big water slides that empty into a lap pool, a play structure, an area for small toddlers, a rope ladder, a volleyball net and basketball hoop, and a lazy river. It will have a capacity of more than 280 people, according to Styron.

The water park’s design will be inspired by the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, located south of Farmington. Those design elements will include fossil images stamped onto the pool deck.

Council discusses design for play structure

The City Council also considered play structures for the water park and asked the city staff to pursue a design that will increase costs by about $100,000.

The design includes various features that spray or dump water onto children. It also includes a slide for younger children that will be built in addition to the two larger slides. In one design, the slide includes a pentaceratops head. Councilor Sean Sharer said he had concerns about a dinosaur head on the slide.

The new Bisti Bay Water Park in Farmington's Brookside Park is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend.

“I have a 3-year-old, and it would scare her to death, and she wouldn’t go down the slide,” he said.

The council supported the idea of having fossils incorporated in the project design but not having models of dinosaurs featured in the play equipment.

Councilor Janis Jakino said having the natural-looking fossils would allow the city to create a design element that could be incorporated into other facilities in the city.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at