Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe breaks ground for water park

Curtis Hopkins, a member of the Unami Lenapi Nation, blesses the ground on Monday at the site of the Soaring Eagle Water Park, 5665 E. Pickard St,, before the ground breaking. Hopkins burned tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar. (Erica Kearns/Staff Photographer)

Construction for the Soaring Eagle Water Park and Hotel, 5665 E. Pickard St., is set to begin April 11.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe broke ground Monday on the park.  Construction will take about 14 to 16 months and the hotel is slated to open in early summer 2012.

"This is the beginning of a new direction for the tribe," said tribal Chief Dennis V. Kequom Sr. "We want to turn this area into a destination community."

The resort will be built at the interchange of U.S. 127 and M-20. It will have 244 rooms, a restaurant, arcade and golf pro shop.

About two hundred construction jobs and 120 post-construction jobs will be created for people in the community, said tribal Public Relations Director Frank Cloutier.

The indoor water park will be 45,000 square feet, which will make it the largest in the state. It is expected to include a wave rider, body slide, bowl slide, rock climbing wall, lazy river, children's play area and a private adult pool.

"The elements are going to be geared toward families," said Bonnie Sprague, the park's general manager. "We have looked at every avenue to include all ages and we don't want anyone to be left out."

Along with Migizi Economic Development Co., architectural firms Thalden Boyd, Emery Architects and Horizon Construction Group have been partnered with for the project.

"The hotel will be designed with a rustic contemporary feel," Cloutier said. "The lobby will be adorned with Native regalia and a botanical theme in many rooms."

For the project to go forward in a positive manner without disturbing ancestors, Curtis Hopkins, a member of the Unami Lenapi Nation, performed a ground blessing to ensure ancestors that the ground is not being disturbed in a negative way.

As part of the blessing, Hopkins burned tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar to acknowledge the grandfather and remember him, Hopkins said.

"This is a great move for the community," said Central Michigan University President George Ross. "We like to support the tribe as much as we can."

Union Township Supervisor John Barker said this is one of multiple projects that will help develop Mount Pleasant into a destination area.

"The water park will be another reason to come here and another reason to stay," Barker said.


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