Construction on a $6 million aquatic recreation center at Prophetstown State Park in west central Indiana started Monday morning (Oct. 15) with a public groundbreaking ceremony.

Indiana’s newest state park, Prophetstown is located where the Tippecanoe River meets the Wabash River near the town of Battle Ground. Jason Getz, the park’s property manager, said the aquatic center is the next big development in a master plan created at the park’s inception, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported.

“We don’t have a lot of trees in our park, just tall prairie grass, so the No. 1 comment we have always gotten from people was that they wanted somewhere to swim,” Getz said.

Projected to open next summer, the center will feature a 30-foot tube slide, a body flume, a lazy river, a zero-entry pool (using a gradually sloping entrance that becomes deeper with each step) with play features, an aquatic activity area with basketball, and a bathhouse with showers, changing areas, restrooms and a concession area.

Graphic renderings of the facility, designed by Schmidt Associates, were on display at the groundbreaking.

Getz hopes the center will increase weekday park and campground visitation during the summer. He said weekends almost always find the campgrounds full with visitors, but activity drops off during the week.

Dan Bortner, director of the state’s division of parks and reservoirs, said this project has been a work in progress.

“This center is a huge step for the entire community,” Bortner said. He added that Prophetstown is about 80% complete with its master plan, which every Indiana park must have.

“It is a step-by-step process that includes campgrounds, trails and pretty much everything else that is found within the park,” said Phil Bloom, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck City, was on hand to offer congratulations and note the dramatic milestone that the center marks for the park.

“This center will generate recreational opportunities, expand the number of people coming to the park and add some jobs,” Hershman said. “It took a while to get this project moving because of the economy, but we found a way with no cost to the taxpayers to make it happen.”

The aquatic center is expected to employ 18 to 22 lifeguards once it opens next summer.