VACAVILLE — Anyone with attachments to the former Blue Lagoon water slide park in Vacaville might want to say their goodbyes soon.
After an early 2013 sale, the property is undergoing some major changes as the new owners get to work.
Opened in 1981, Blue Lagoon lasted into the 1990s before shutting down.
For years, the defunct attraction greeted visitors to the city’s Peña Adobe Park and Lagoon Valley Park. Now, however, the long-abandoned property is seeing new life after years of neglect.
Real estate sale records show the Spanish-language church Ministerios Restauracion Ebenezer purchased the 5.3-acre property from Blue Lagoon Associates in January 2013 for $895,000.
Work began in May 2013 to convert the property into what church officials call a retreat center and place of reflection and prayer.
“(We envision) a place where kids, members of the different churches and members of the community can come and play and have gardens and things like that,” said church secretary Betsy Cordoba. “So there’s no plans for a church or anything like that to be built here.”
The aim is to make the property match the surrounding park land in terms of vegetation and appearance.
But Cordoba admits there’s a long way to go.
The fiberglass slide flumes were torn out and now sit in piles in the parking lot along Peña Adobe Road.
Elsewhere on the property, old swimming pools are in need of restoration and much debris and vegetation is in need of clearing.
“With the water slides, we considered whether or not they were going to be valuable to restore, but unfortunately it’s fiberglass,” Cordoba said. ” So many years. So many cracks and things and we really needed to see what the land looked like.”
Along with the clearing of the land comes an extensive planning process.
Cordoba said the city wants to see the whole vision for the property before approving any major work.
Those plans could be ready to go to the city council within the next month, she added.
“We don’t have the funds to do everything at once,” Cordoba said.
Fernando Campos, pastor of the mother church in San Francisco, said the project could take about five years to reach completion.
“We’re a Christian organization whose main objective is to find communion between people and God,” Campos said in Spanish, with Cordoba translating. “It’s important that we can understand other things, like helping the community and having a place where you can have communion and do things that help society as well.”
With a host of societal ills such as addiction and families falling apart, Campos said he wanted to provide a place to help heal.
“So what we’re going to do is use this place as a way of being able to bring the people back together so that people can feel welcome and blessed,” he said.
Areas of the disused water park are scattered with debris and everything from a washer and dryer to a child’s play castle lie about.
But with new landscaping near a house on the property, it’s beginning to look more inviting, and that’s the eventual goal.
First is an extensive cleanup process.
“There was a lot of garbage that was in here. So cleaning it up and making sure that somehow we have it ready to go (comes first),” Cordoba said. “There’s not much more that we can do as far as construction because it is a recreational property.”
“The first stage of it is cleaning it up and taking everything down that was installed before that is of no use,” he said. “It was an abandoned place where you could find vices. . . . If we begin making changes, the area is also going to see positive changes.”
He is happy his church purchased the property with the plan to maintain the natural look.
“It would have been sad for some other type of commercial company to be here, like a gas station or things like that,” Campos said. “Even though this is a private property, we want it to be an open property for the community. We want to be open and announce to the churches in the area that when all this is done they can have a place to have their outdoor activities. A place of prayer and a place of peace.”
For now, though, reminders of the property’s past as a local summer hangout remain.
Still visible among the trees is a sign advertising the Blue Lagoon Gran’ Prix kart racing to passersby on Interstate 80.
In its heyday, Blue Lagoon offered the four water slides on the hillside, bumper boats, a video game arcade, volleyball and other outdoor summer activities.
Over the years at least one other church group looked at the property before building elsewhere in Vacaville.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.