Employees Blindsided by Iowa Waterpark Closure
The fallout continues from the closure of Wasserbahn Waterpark & Resort in Williamsburg, which became official and permanent last week. It also caught many of the resort's employees off guard.
Paychecks are bouncing for many and some are left looking for new housing, including an employee who was reportedly hired to manage the resort. Stephanie Stevenson told KCRG she had just closed on a house to be nearer to the waterpark for work.
A front desk employee who has actually been calling the Wasserbahn hotel her home now has until the end of the month to get out. Ruth Wheeler, who has two sons, said:
We’ve been given permission the few that are left, to stay until the end of the month but our propane is running out for hot water so we don’t know how much longer we have out here
Meanwhile, a tussle at the top of the ownership chain remains, as the Iowa Secretary of State lists two firms as the owners of Wasserbahn. One is Avari, which is owned by Yule Park, whom we mentioned in our previous story. The other is Smock Investments, owned by Thomas Smock, who is currently running a different resort in Florida and said his contract of ownership ended in 2021. Smock has been more elusive, as staff claim to have not been in contact with him in "weeks". The building is reportedly set to be leveled and turned into a truck stop.
A Quad-City Times article from 2015 shows Smock having previously been in a different type of trouble, having been arrested and later released on $10,000 bond after charges of a sexual relationship with a minor. A direct correlation could not be confirmed between those charges and the resort's closure.
Then, some bands were booked to play the resort and were never contacted directly about the closure. Local favorite Unbalanced is one of them, saying they won't be without a gig for long, as they have an upcoming show at the Chrome Horse on March 25. But news of their Wasserbahn cancelation was, to say the least, awkward.
Not nearly as awkward as it was for Wheeler, Stevenson, and other employees. What came as an even bigger surprise to them is they felt like recent business had been booming at Wasserbahn. Smock had obtained over $141,000 in pandemic relief funding, and reservations were picking up. Now, staff members are confused about the next steps after having laid down roots, counting on an income and life as a result of their association with Wasserbahn.
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