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County pulls plug on talk of water park

York County isn't trying to entice an indoor water park and resort to the Fort Mill area, officials said Monday.

York County officials say they haven't offered any incentives to Great Wolf Resorts. But Cabarrus County, N.C., has said Great Wolf is trying to choose between locations in York County and Cabarrus County for its hotel and water park.

A Cabarrus County economic development official was quoted in a story published in Monday's Herald saying York County and the state could offer $14.2 million over 20 years to land the project. Great Wolf is expected to invest $100 million and bring about 400 jobs.

York County officials say they've made no such offers.

"That is a contrived and fabricated number from Cabarrus County," said Mark Farris, York County's director of economic development. "Great Wolf has not considered this site in several months. They are not actively searching for a site in York County."

A spokesperson for Great Wolf wouldn't comment on a Fort Mill site. The company will announce a new park in the greater Charlotte area within a few months, said spokesperson Jennifer Beranak.

Great Wolf had been looking at a site along Carowinds Boulevard, but the county hasn't spoken with the company in several months, York County officials said.

"That's a bunch of bunk," said York County Council Chairman Buddy Motz about the incentives. "I don't know where that came from. I can't understand why they (Cabarrus County officials) would want to get that anyway, if they're so dire for water."

Ryan McDaniels, who quoted the figure, was unavailable for comment Monday.

Cabarrus County's top economic development official said Monday he didn't know where the $14.2 million figure came from.

"The information he (McDaniels) has may have a particular source to it of which I'm not aware," said John Cox, head of Cabarrus' Economic Development and McDaniels' boss.

York County might be able to offer more incentives than Cabarrus County because it could get state money, Cox said.

"That may be how the packages are different," he said.

But state officials said they wouldn't make an offer to Great Wolf without working closely with York County.

"Can we or would we make an offer without informing the local economic development people? The answer there is no," said Marion Edmonds, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

His agency could potentially offer money for the project, but Edmonds declined to talk specifically about Great Wolf.

One York County Council member was angry about the Cabarrus officials' claim and about that county's attempt to lure the water park, given its struggle to manage its own water needs.

Cabarrus County has been part of a years-long battle to draw water from the Catawba River, outside of its own basin and before the water reaches downstream users. S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster recently sued North Carolina over that plan, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

York County has pledged $400,000 for the legal fight.

"They want to use our drinking water for their slides," said Councilman Rick Lee. "It's just unbelievable."

Cabarrus officials have said Great Wolf's hotel would not use more than a typical large hotel, and the water park would use less water than residential development on the same land.

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