published Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Dalton studying new hotel, water park

  • photo
    Staff File Photo by Meghan Brown The North West Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, Ga., is visible from a helicopter.

A feasibility study in Dalton, Ga., will explore the potential tourism benefits of renovating the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, building a hotel next door to it and constructing a destination-size water park.

Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Brett Huske says the study is the first step in "a long process" for any one of the project ideas.

The study -- being performed by Key Advisors in Atlanta for $25,000 split among the bureau, the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce and the Joint Development Authority -- is now in its third week, and is expected to take another nine weeks or so, Huske said Friday.

He said the three ideas are ventures he's been mulling as he looked for ways to boost tourism activity in Whitfield County and Dalton over the last three years.

"The purpose of the study really was to get the background to substantiate the next step for any of these projects" to take them from the idea stage to the potential project stage, Huske said. Funding for any one of the ideas will become a discussion down the road, he said.

Huske and Chamber officials say the ideas could boost the local economy and take advantage of "unique assets" Dalton and Whitfield County offer in the way of tourism.

"Given the strength of our community's tourism segment, researching added avenues of economic growth could enable us to further grow our local economy and utilize our unique assets to their fullest potential," Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement.

Huske admitted there are examples of local water park ideas that have flopped, one proposed in East Ridge a few years ago and another in Catoosa County, Ga., before that. And there already are regional water parks at Six Flags Over Georgia and Dollywood in the Smoky Mountains.

But Huske's idea is for a water park large enough to make it a "destination" attraction, he said.

The trio of ideas, if they were all put in place, would be like a "three-legged stool" in supporting each other by providing visitors something to do during their stay, Huske said.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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