Waterfall Park: Hatteras Island’s worst eyesore? WITH SLIDE SHOW - Shooting The Breeze


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A cautionary tale | Home | Trimble will be leavi…

Waterfall Park: Hatteras Island’s worst eyesore? WITH SLIDE SHOW

Friday 23 May 2014 at 5:44 pm.

In its heyday in the 1980s and ‘90s, Waterfall Park in Rodanthe was one of the busiest and happiest of places.  It was filled with families enjoying all of the water-themed attractions, such as waterslides, go-carts, a free-fall tower, and swimming pool.

It was built by the Merjos family of Virginia Beach.  The parents – George and Ritsa – lived in a very large house on the soundside of the property.  He died several years ago and she lives in Virginia Beach.  Most of the park’s business is conducted by their son Steve, who also lives in Virginia Beach.

Waterfall Park started its downward spiral when the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy in 2007.  It fell on hard times, business fell off, land values plummeted.

The park had not been in operation for several years by the time Hurricane Irene hit in August of 2011 and it had begun looking rundown.

However, the epic storm surge off the Pamlico Sound with Irene did an incredible amount to damage to homes and businesses in the tri-villages, including Waterfall Park. While before, the park was rundown, it was now wrecked.

In the almost three years since the hurricane, the owners have not moved forward with either tearing down the park or selling it.

As time passed, the deterioration of the park continued.  It was vandalized and graffiti started popping up everywhere. There are sharp edges on equipment and standing water.

The county started getting complaints from residents of the area and even from some visitors.  The Island Free Press has over the years received quite a few comments on the condition of the park.

Last summer, an Eastern Carolina University professor surveyed Dare County residents on their attitudes toward the economy and the environment.  Among the open-ended questions she asked was, “What is the largest eyesore in the county?”

The two most frequent responses from Hatteras islanders were the Wings stores and Waterfall Park.

Bobby Outten, the county manager and attorney, and planning director Donna Creef say the county has done what it can to get the place cleaned up and is working with the owners. The public health inspector is a regular visitor now.

“We can’t make it look pretty, but we can make it safe,” Outten says.

The owners have hired a lawyer and an engineer, and Creef says she and other officials are working with them now on exactly what on the county list of safety repairs the owners are willing to make.

“It’s not that I like to see the property like that,” Steve Merjos said last week. “We don’t.”

He said he and his family built the largest park on the island, which over the years has contributed immeasurably to the economy. In return, he said, they have gotten very little consideration from the state or the county, especially after Hurricane Irene.

He said that after Irene he personally came to the island and hauled off 150 dump truckloads of debris – at his own expense.

Whether or not the family rebuilds, he said, depends on many things.  Chief among them is the replacement of the Bonner Bridge and the repair of the “hotspots” on Highway 12. Without a reliable transportation corridor, he thinks, the park cannot be viable.

He added that they are also not willing to sell just now.

“It was worth a tremendous amount of money at one time,” he said of the park.

The people complaining, he said, are locals not visitors.

“Someone is trying to pick up the property for pennies on the dollar.

The Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association has made an offer on the property, which was turned down.

“We also won’t demolish something we might reopen,” he said.

Merjos said last week that he is planning to head to Hatteras soon to do some more cleanup work.

The county has given him a report on the property and what it wants to see done to protect public safety. And the two sides are negotiating.

Outten says he thinks the property will be cleaned up to the minimum level, just so “the county has no legal recourse.”

“We’ll give them some time and then we’ll move on to the next level,” he added.

“Nobody in this situation is the bad guy,” Merjos said.  “It’s the circumstances….The hurricane hit me harder than anyone in the state.”

He wishes to remind the county and all those who complain that, at one time, Waterfall Park brought one million visitors to the island.

“I was the Number 1 reason people crossed the bridge,” he says, “not your lighthouse.”




It didn’t bring in more people than the light house, but it’s surely turning off a lot of people now! How would he like it if that was his next door neighbor in VA Beach? Either clean it up, rebuild and re-open, or sell the garbage pit!!

Melissa - 23-05-’14 18:27
cathy barnhardt

I have been coming to Hatteras for 30 some odd years. The “park” has always been an eyesore, a distraction from a natural and beautiful island. I would never have “crossed the bridge” for this tacky and now even more ugly “park”. We are not locals, just visitors from the other end of North Carolina. We love Hatteras and have tolerated the eyesores in order to enjoy fishing, sunning, shelling, eating, shopping local crafts, enjoying music… and being with family. Mr. Merjos is making excuses.

cathy barnhardt - 23-05-’14 18:41
Al Smith

As a mainlander, I have little of substance to add. I remember when it wasn’t there, I remember it’s “hay day” when the place was buzzing with tourists. Recently I’ve just passed by shaking my head. Unfortunately, I also recall the sand blowing over the “bypass” when there was no development at all to the west of the two lane “highway?” in Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. I was always somewhat disappointed in the development further down the road but understood it helped the economy. I’ve strayed far from the intent of a comment on Waterfall Park but I always appreciated when the businesses on the island were owned and operated by locals who made their living during circus months and served their neighbors in the off months. Fifty years has made quite a difference and I only hope the residents benefit from the changes.

Al Smith - 23-05-’14 18:51

After coming to Hatteras for years, the water park is something I never stopped to see. I guess I’m not in that 1 million. I do own property on Hatteras and view this property as an eyesore.

Barry - 23-05-’14 20:23

He’s an idiot who has looted this precious island and made an eyesore that hurts the rest of us! So because it affects him and his bottom line he wont do anything about it? This county needs to act soon, it affects all of the businesses on HI. Maybe he is waiting for a Govt hand out or buy out? That place needs to be razed. Poor tri cities…that place is disgusting. I tell islanders who visit not to look at the trash or the mosquito factories.

Steve - 23-05-’14 20:31
Frank Henson

My wife & I own 3 houses in Rodanthe-Waves. The waterpark is an embarrassment to us and to our guests. Dare County officials should be ashamed that they seem to have little or no control over fixing the situation that has endured for over five years…no just since Hurricanes Irene or Sandy. Potential homes buyers, renters to Hatteras Island, new businesses are all avoiding this area because of this mess. Our elected officials should figure out a way to make it right.

Frank Henson - 23-05-’14 22:05

The owners are crazy if they think that place at anytime was the reason people came to the island. My family has been vacationing on Hatteras island for the past 10 years straight and when the place was open it was a poorly run and maintained dump run by people who looked like they couldnt get a job at the cheapest of carnivals. I’m not sure if the island can use eminent domain but it sure should try. It’s truely a shame that the owners won’t do the right thing and sell it off.

Robert - 23-05-’14 23:02
Sam Bricker

Not to burst Mr. Merjos’ bubble or add to his woes, but my family visited the Outer Banks many, many times before 2007 and never once crossed the bridge to visit his park. In fact, we NEVER visited his park. There’s an old saying that pride goeth before a fall. In Mr. Merjos’ case, it also appears to followeth one.

Sam Bricker - 23-05-’14 23:25

We’ve been annual visitors to Hatteras Island since the early 1960s. We come down to enjoy the beauty of the island, good fishing and low crowds. Not one time have we wanted to stop there. It stands out like a sore thumb.

Susan - 24-05-’14 06:27

The park is a great place! Only the yuppies think it’s an eyesore. The real eyesore is the queer painted houses, subdivisions, 20’setbacks,beaches in front of villages,etc. Waterfall Park is our recreation area and we thoroughly enjoy it now that it’s closed.

Bud - 24-05-’14 06:58
MS Hooper

One man’s treasure, another man’s trash! Excuse me, but perhaps I should rephrase this, one man’s treasure EVERY OTHER MAN’S TRASH! That is the the consensus of every other person living on or visiting Hatteras Island/Ocracoke! It needs to be torn down. Period.

MS Hooper - 24-05-’14 07:48
salvo jimmy

There is a house in my neighborhood in Salvo that is falling down and in much worse shape than anything in Waterfall Park. I’ve been after the county on this house and am repeatedly told it is not a health or safety hazard, so they can do nothing.

If there are safety hazards at Waterfall Park that the county is after, then I think I’ll revisit the house with the county, citing the county action on the Park.

salvo jimmy - 24-05-’14 07:56

Hit hard by hurricane, I believe it. Waiting for a decision on the bridge, I believe it—many others are putting off investments and even selling because of the prospects of the bridge and road.

That said, you build anything on this Island or anywhere that there is the prospect of natural disasters (tornados, earthquakes, etc.) you take out insurance and deal with the costs went the disaster happens. If you don’t want to rebuild, you sell.

The question here is why can’t the county force him to clean it up? Did the tri-villages do like Frisco and vote against zoning laws because they didn’t want to give up the freedom to do as they like with their land? If so, then live with your decision like we have with the go cart place which actually turned out ok but is a noise maker when the wind blows the right way and operates later into the evening than I would like.

Point is everyone screamed about the plan but no one was willing to vote for zoning that would prevent similar businesses. In the absence of zoning you live with what you get. Sometimes it turns out ok, like the go cart place but sometimes it does not like the waterfall park and overbuilding. But in the absence of zoning you have nothing to complain about and NO recourse.

Ginny - 24-05-’14 08:19

The water park was probably nice at one time but in the past few years it has become a real eye sore and this is coming from a visitor, not a local. There is a lot of nice land there that could become something really attractive, maybe condos, shopping center, small water park, miniature golf or a mixture of all of the above. The reasons given for not doing anything with the park are just excuses and not valid reasons in my opinion.

Jane - 24-05-’14 08:43

It will never be the same. He is holding out because he thinks he is going to make a TON of money when some big developer comes along to buy it. It is obviously in a very bad location. Who in their right mind would want it?

Carol - 24-05-’14 08:55

I think that we all need to work together to find a solution. I am sure that after Irene things have not been the same for ANYONE on Hatteras Island. However, I do think that something needs to be done. It consumes a LARGE area in Rodanthe, it would be nice if there could be some sort of CO OP on the property with the RWS Community Center.
I do not see how anything could be salvaged from that park to “make it running again” I wouldn’t want to participate in any of the existing amusments if they tried to reopen it without a total demolition. I feel bad because I know at one time it was an awesome are, too bad there doesn’t seem to be any sort of immediate plans

Anna - 24-05-’14 09:34

Actually the RWS Civic Associaiton made two offers to buy the property at WFP in hopes that it could be replaced with a sound side park and access on the west side of the highway, and then ensure that the east side eyesore was removed. The offer was at the County assessed value. Steve needs to face the reality that it is not worth any more than that. In fact considering the cost to reclaim it it is worth far less.
Aslo the County is not enforcing the county Nuisance code but trying to avoid legal fees by negotiating what they consider a settlement. It will not be an acceptable settlement in the eyes of those who live and visit the island unless the eyesore is gone.
Hatteras Island residence and vistors should not have to settle. The Code should be enforced to the letter and the land reclaimed. Let’s insist that it is made “pretty.” Write your County Commission today.

Mark - 24-05-’14 10:01
Jack Anderson

Yeah, it’s the worst eyesore, but I see Steve’s point of view. With the ‘Great Recession’ and the ongoing bridge issue facing him I can see why he is reluctant to put a lot of money into the park. He’s wrong on other comments he makes. I first started vacationing at the old Hatteras Island Motel (H.I.M.) in 1976. There was no water park. We didn’t come for the lighthouses, although they were there. We came for the sun, surf, sand, fish and relaxation in an uncrowded environment. Sorry Steve, your water park was a nice addition and our kids had a lot of fun there, but it was just an addition, not the real reason most of us trekked over the Bonner Bridge. I hope the economy picks up and the bridge issue is resolved. Perhaps then it would be worth it to reopen Waterfall Park. It really was a blast back in it’s day!

Jack Anderson - 24-05-’14 10:07

I am a born and bred Avon resident, I have many fond memories of going to Waterfall Park when I was a kid. It is a real shame that it has fallen into disrepair, but I do see the owner’s point of view. Property values are very low right now, I wouldn’t want to let property such as his go right now either. As far as Outten’s comments that the owner will get the Park safe enough that the County has no recourse, he should be satisfied when it is brought up to safe standards, last I checked just because a parcel of property isn’t “pretty” doesn’t mean that others can force you to change it unless it is unsafe. I am more bothered by the sherbet colored mini mansions that have overtaken our Island than by driving by Waterfall Park.

Kinnakeeter - 24-05-’14 10:41
Ben B

I’m 51 and have lived in NC all my life with visits to the many natural beautiful views offered when found or developed by people. The lighthouses I have visited in America are truly for safety and their unique beauty only exist due to the resorces available and constructed by people who recognized the need. Mr. Merjos, at one time enjoyed the grand rewards the operation of this “Amusement Park” graced his family. On the last 9 visits in the same number of years, watched the disintegration of that property unrivalled to the unamused visitors and astonished land owners who I have conversed and witnessed the displeasure of his maintenance due to it’s contributing the “Unattraction” factors they have invested to their service and other businesses that are ever changing but, cannot turn a blind eye with only one eye left. Condem the property, raise the land level to eliminate the pestilence, affix the cost to the property taxes he owes. Ten years is not very neighborly to perpetuate this “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, not even living in the same state, passive aggressive motivational threat in order to recoupe believed money owed for years of nonoperational assets. As I’ve heard this said many times along the outer banks, among the many indigenous and proud to live in their respective areas would say…“You can’t get gone.” I believe Mr. Merjos did not, nor is planning to ever put back. He’s to heart and financially broke but, incompatant to operate commercial property. Greed is the main factor of this, I truly can feel the daily loss of a business you believed viably for a time… but was wrong. Please recognize the most constant factor in the universe, CHANGE, for the beterment of mankind. Peace, please, be with you.

Ben B - 24-05-’14 11:38

Everything has its time and place. The Pavillion at the ‘Circle’ on Atlantic Beach, NC on the ‘Southern’ Outer Banks was a great place for family, sun, fun, sand and beach bands for many years and those memories will last in the minds who experienced them forever. It was heart breaking to see it go. However, Mother Nature is a powerful force. Read the history of Atlantic Beach at http://bit.ly/1vXYuhV there are many structures that have come and gone over time. Many were replaced by new ones. The Waterfall Park in Hatteras has seen its day and now it is time to move on! The NEW construction at the “Circle” at Atlantic Beach, NC and throughout Bogue Island will be enjoyed by new generations for years to come. Hatteras Island is a beautiful island. Please don’t leave these crumbling ruins at Waterfall Park for the children of this generation to remember. Allow them to have happpy memories too!

Gena (URL) - 24-05-’14 11:53
Roland  (Massachusetts)

I have been coming to the Outer Banks off and on for over 20 years if I wanted to go to a water park id go to Six FLAGS or Disney, this beautiful area does’nt need an eyesore like this operating or in the shape its in right now to bring people to this beautiful part of the world.Get going you elected officials and get this place cleaned up before someone wanders in there and gets hurt ,the stagnant water and areas around it is a breeding ground for insects and disease and who knows what,this parcel of land has looked like a dump for far too long.

Roland (Massachusetts) - 24-05-’14 12:02
Jackie Kay

Never was a must-do. Was, at best, a diversionary stop, a time-killer, if need be, on the way to vacation for a week, or on the way home from vacation. It was never a destination stop.
And it has become a terrible eyesore.
Should be condemned and removed.

Jackie Kay - 24-05-’14 12:41

Time to revisit zoning in tri-villages and Frisco. I think that may be the editor’s point with back to back blogs regarding this situation. I also think the scenic highway laws need to be reinforced again, from tons of illegal signs to piles of gravel and sand with no setbacks right on Hwy 12.

billfish - 24-05-’14 12:51

It’s still a fun place for us and used on a regular basis.

Bud - 24-05-’14 12:54
Hawk Hawkins

It was a damned good place to get injured or killed on the highway,and many did,as gawking drivers were distracted by lights,noise,children,dogs,etc…I remember some terrible accidents there.

Hawk Hawkins - 24-05-’14 13:16

Eyesore or not it is private property. There are plenty of other eyesores on the island. Most of the complainers are not from here and are trying to push their idea of what is right on to others. If you don’t like what you see close your eyes or go away and don’t come back.

I don’t blame them for not selling. It appears they do not need the money so why would they give it way. It is in a prime location and will be worth something during the next real estate cycle.

And for the johnny-come-latelys who were not able to enjoy the island prior to the late 80’s you never got to experience what the island used to be.

JimH - 24-05-’14 13:30

“I am more bothered by the sherbet-colored mini-mansions…”

Good point, and just one more reason why unchecked growth can have real-life consequences. It should make us more thankful than ever for having such a good friend as our National Park Service. Make sure you thank a ranger today for his or her hard work and decision to serve the country. And for those rangers who also served our country in the military, thank you times two.

billfish - 24-05-’14 15:03

There are also terrible accidents at the KOA.

Bud - 24-05-’14 15:10

My family and I stayed in Rodanthe in 2012 and were appalled at the condition of what was left of Waterfall Park. I couldn’t believe it when we were there last month and nothing had changed! I do remember when the Park was a busy and fun place to be. Mr Merjos, you are not going to reopen this park or you would have already. Sell it, tear it down, or whatever but do something, not nothing. I am a visitor, not a local, and I AM complaining! You claim lack of consideration by local and state government, but I think they have given you more than enough time to get this place cleaned up.

LeahL - 24-05-’14 16:24

I’m a 40+ year visitor and a recent owner in Frisco. I absolutely love the OBX but decided to sell largely due to the multitude of issues like this. Wildlife protection idealists and lack of zoning have killed it for me. It used to be a beautiful place but until folks take this sort of thing seriously, folks like me will put their time and money elsewhere.

Craig - 24-05-’14 16:54

There is no “Eastern Carolina University” in NC!

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY graduate - 24-05-’14 17:00

Just kidding…

Bud - 24-05-’14 20:52

There is and you graduated from there. Guess common sense is not taught there?

Bud - 25-05-’14 06:34

My family has been coming to Hatteras since the 60’s and neither I or any of my 6 siblings and their families ever went to the water park. We’ve got plenty of them here at home that are much nicer. We don’t go to Wings stores either.

That said I understand Steve’s business/property value situation. They probably bought fairly high, and don’t want to sell low. In terms or re-opening as an excuse to not do any demolition, I hate to inform him that after years of neglect most of those structures are of little use. You will probably have to start over anyway.

Hey! How about a solution? Steve, lease the property to the cement company building the bridges. They will do the demolition, give you some cash flow for a few years, then after the bridges are complete they’ll clean up the property and you can make your decision. A win win, Thank me later.

DennyInDayton - 25-05-’14 08:23

Billfish signs violating scenic highway laws! You can’t be serious. You can’t go drive the highway without seeing a multitude of resource protection or no parking signs.

As for zoning, that is indeed a local issue and it is up to residents to vote for the amount of development they want in their community.

As for the park, yes it was the intention to prevent building on the land but it was also the intention to have the area available for traditional uses—not as a wildlife preserve.

With respect to the other comments about private property, that was exactly my point. It is private property and unless the owner is in violation of some law or covenant, he is well within his rights to do as he likes with the property. We have all had both good and bad neighbors but we don’t have the right to tell them what to do with their property.

Ginny - 25-05-’14 08:31
Fran Cleary

Waterfall Park always has been an eyesore and now it is a disgusting garbage pit. We visited the island a few weeks ago and it was shocking to see a landfill on both sides of the road where WP used to be. Tear it down and get on with it, please!!!!! Seeing this trash heap on the way to beautiful Avon and beyond is sad and disturbing. Dare County needs to intervene if the owners do not voluntarily tear down the entire concrete jungle. Fran- Midlothian, Virginia

Fran Cleary - 25-05-’14 13:31

donate the structures to the fire departments so they can burn it for training

bbc - 25-05-’14 16:59

I disagree. The closures are temporary and primarily just for protection of nesting birds and turtles. Only part of the Park is restricted part of the time.

A nature reserve (natural reserve, nature preserve, natural preserve, bioreserve, or just preserve) is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.

CHNS enabling legislation

Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area . . .

(Aug. 17, 1937, ch. 687, Sec. 4, 50 Stat. 670; June 29, 1940, ch. 459, Sec. 1, 54 Stat. 702; Mar. 6, 1946, ch. 50, 60 Stat. 32.)

PH - 25-05-’14 21:12

The “just kidding’ is not my comment. I would not joke about the accidents and deaths at KOA and Hwy 12.

Bud - 26-05-’14 06:19
Dave H

The park is definitely an eyesore, but there are many other island locales which could be perceived as such.I remember when the park was operating- nice diversion, but hardly a reason to visit Hatteras! The kids loved it, but not like the beach and ocean. I always thought it was kind of out of place on HI, though. Once government begins to legislate esthetics, it is a slippery slope.
I can certainly see Mr. Merjos’ point in hesitating to rebuild, and it IS his property. Also, in this electronic age, amusement parks aren’t exactly a growth industry. As to the perceived safety issues- if you stay off the property and keep YOUR kids off of it, that’s a non- issue. How about a little personal responsibility? Personally, I believe that the right and neighborly thing for the Merjos family to do would be to clean it up and/or reopen the place, but again, that is their business.

Dave H - 26-05-’14 07:34
salvo jimmy

And covenants are not enforced by the county. Covenants are enforced by a homeowner assn; and if the assn is defunct, like mine, you are SOL and enforcing covenants.

salvo jimmy - 26-05-’14 07:45
Edward Stradling

It IS a safety issue! I parked my car and walked over to the park and took a few-dozen photographs of the place. Broken glass everywhere. Exposed, rusted metal everywhere! Nails, jagged metal framing, broken concrete and garbage strewn about the entire property. No effective fencing keeping vandals out. Graffiti, smashed Go-Karts, rotting tires, broken wood, dangerous structures with county signage declaring it “unsafe”, pools of stagnant water, mold, fallen debris from the free-fall tower and all of the buildings… It’s just ridiculous. Even if the pool and the asphalt is left on the land, at the very least take down the tower, the signage, dismantle the wooden structures and take away the tires and trash! It doesn’t have to be beautiful but at least change it from the apocalyptic war-zone it’s become. Even the property surrounding the deceased owner’s Italian Villa-styled mansion is starting to look terrible. Someone is really going to get hurt in there and the owners could care less.

Edward Stradling - 26-05-’14 09:26

Its an eyesore and never was a “destination” for us, though we did go once. Fishing and secluded beaches were the draw for us, but nanny state rules and reduced access has discouraged us from visiting like we used to.

AnonVisitor - 26-05-’14 10:26

I think to call Steve an idiot or a villain that looted the island is preposterous Steve with no education became a self made multi millionaire before the age of 25 then later co invented a malaria drug which is distributed world wide for free in his spare time he volunteers with challenged children and he didn’t build the largest park on the island it was the largest park in the state maybe people should try even coming close to accomplishing what he’s done before they judge such a nice man

cindy - 26-05-’14 12:46

Level it and put the charge on their county tax bill. If the owners want to hold out for a higher price for the land, then they should. But that doesn’t mean every resident and visitor has to put up with their complete disregard for others in the mean time. Do not let their lawyers negotiate for a half way fix. Start imposing big fines for what they haven’t already done over the years. We need stricter zoning to keep ruthless people from doing the same thing again and again.

billfish - 26-05-’14 14:59
Dave H

billfish- on what authority would you have the county do this? Suppose that the gov were to arbitrarily decide that something you were doing or owned was in complete disregard to others. Would you consent to their “fixing” the problem and charging you? I think not! Placing more power over what people do with their private property in the hands of the government is never wise. It only leads to abuse of power- something which ALL levels of government specialize in!

Dave H - 26-05-’14 16:13
Dave H

Also, Mr. Stradling- The park is only a safety issue should you or others trespass on property where you have NO right to be! So long as the hazards are contained within the property, if someone trespasses on the property and injures themselves, they have NO ONE to blame except themselves! Again, how about folks taking some responsibility for their actions?

Dave H - 26-05-’14 16:32


jennifer - 26-05-’14 20:25

they should turn it into a skate park and have a concrete or cement plant to build new ramps for skaters and bridges

bud - 26-05-’14 20:45
Stephanie Dean

If you think this place was a destination at one time??? You’re delusional! It’s a huge huge eyesore! Clean it up! Just get rid of it and do something useful with the sight. It’s not fair to locals or visitors to leave it as is!

Stephanie Dean - 27-05-’14 00:17

From PH Closures—only part of the park and only part of the time.

I didn’t claim the closures were permanent or covered the entire park. I said it covers enough that you can’t find a whole lot of the highway that is not littered with signs.

And as for only part of the park, tell that to Buxton businesses—this year 43 and 44 are closed before the summer season even starts. And except for .6 mile right off of ramp 44 this closure from 43 all the way around the point and extending 2 miles past ramp 45 is a total resource closure. That means you cannot step on dry land—period.

Just as the Cobia fishing and spinning action heated up. Oh and where are the pedestrians going for VFA—the old lighthouse site. Will they find a primitive experience? Only if they consider wall to wall people, the scent of sunscreen and barking dogs to be a wilderness experience. Oh I forgot north of the lighthouse site where the beach is so narrow you have to walk under the cottages.

Sorry but this part of the island part of the time just happens to be the time when the island tourist business contributes the bulk of the annual income for the villages and I don’t see much reason to come here if this continues because the beaches elsewhere are actually less crowded and more friendly to walk on.

The birds just don’t need this much protection. The hatch rates have not improved in any statistically significant way but the island economy is hurting and there are so many places for sale it is alarming.

Ginny - 27-05-’14 08:08

Come on Irene!!!!!!!!!! “Eastern Carolina University”?????????? You should be ashamed, its the second largest university in the state, get their name right!!!!!!!!

HudPir8 - 27-05-’14 08:27

1 Million visitors? I don’t remember the Dare County Visitors Guide for Hatteras Island ever mentioning “our beautiful water park” along with lighthouses, beautiful beaches, and world class surf fishing. The Frisco pier looks better then the water park and I’m talking about the condition the pier is in now! 1 million visitors? That has to be the count for the total years it was in operation!

Bob - 27-05-’14 08:36

Dave H,
How aboutDare County .98 Public Nusiance and related payment. This is exactly why we have government. Then there’s health hazards related to vermin and standing water, as well as the threat to curious young childen certain to ignore a sign. Sure it’s his property, but it’s our county. He can be forced to clean it all up or the county can do it and charge him. Why do you think his lawyers are talking with county lawyers? He might be a good guy, but on this occasion, he has done HI wrong because he felt he was wronged. Level it. We need better zoning to stop this madness, and to make sure a future buyer of the land doesn’t turn it into something even worse.

billfish - 27-05-’14 09:14

what needs to be cleaned up was created by trespassers and outsiders dumping trash to expect waterfall to make things pretty for another hurricane to come along is stupid there are no BLIGHT LAWS in rodanthe and this is the usa not communist china the biggest problem on the island isn’t waterfall its alcoholism

jane - 27-05-’14 11:58
jim tom

This here water park is ugly and full ah bugs and trash and stuff. That man shoulda clean it up and made a field of maters or strwberries or somethin good. All trash and stiff thats bad for kids. Yucky.

jim tom - 27-05-’14 12:09

We used to stay in avon when i was a kid and never went to the park. I can see how it would be an eyesore now all run down and junk. That said does this really surprise anybody? If the zoning allowed an ugly waterpark in the first place why is anybody upset that it has fallen apart? Either enforce the laws requiring it to be made safe or vote in people who will change the zoning to prvent such a place from being built again. That or one more big surge to wipe it off the island.

ben - 27-05-’14 12:15


“not as a wildlife preserve.”

I don’t think you understand what a wildlife preserve is or the ramifications of what the intention of CHNS was per the EL.

PH - 27-05-’14 13:01

public Nuisance is for odor and sound not eyesore that’s blight law there are no blight laws in rodanthe

tim - 27-05-’14 13:40
Dave H

Touche, billfish! You are correct and some of the conditions present are actually addressed specifically in the code. However, it could certainly still be left as an eyesore, albeit a safe one. I still disagree with you on the kids, though. It is the responsibility of parents to keep an eye on their children and to teach them to respect other’s property regardless of the condition of that property. While we’re on enforcing ordinances, how ‘bout having the sheriff enforce the county’s noise ordinance next bike week? Hell, all the time. There’s no reason that I should have to listen to exhaust in my home with the windows closed! That is also specifically prohibited by ordinance.
Point being, if you want to enforce one law, you gotta enforce ‘em all!

Dave H - 27-05-’14 15:36
Linda Conner

Waterfall Park was an eyesore years before 2007 and Hurricane Irene. My children used to laugh and joke at the sight of all the billboards while driving down Hwy 158. In our recollection, Waterfall Park has never been “Wild Wonderful Waterfall Park” and in all our years staying in the Hatteras Island villages, we have NEVER even considered stopping there. Even during the years when it was in operation it was deteriorating and for the last few years of its operational life most of the rides were not functional. We never understood how they could earn a profit and have always thought that they were just holding out until somebody offered the family beaucoup millions $$ for the property. We still think that. These days, it is very likely that a child ( or someone) is going to get hurt on the property. There isn’t even a fence around it! I think that the family is fortunate that someone has not already been hurt and sued the pants off of them!!! The place is an accident waiting to happen and I hope the family has lots of insurance!!!

Linda Conner - 27-05-’14 16:01

The owner decision to not clean up the mess is bad for Island business and is taking money out of your pockets. Everybody is being played, and the owner just hires lawyers to settle things down. So when will the County and HI leaders wise up and stop being made fools of?

billfish - 27-05-’14 21:38

I find all the beaches closed signs a bigger eyesore that the water park

anon - 28-05-’14 08:14

Like many who have posted here, my family has been visiting the area for decades. This particular attraction held no interest for us, other than watching for pedestrian/vehicle traffic while traveling through. It likely should be razed, but the question always becomes: “Who is gonna pay for it?” Mr. Merjos’ comments suggest demolition is not likely, although it seems he can be prodded to do some additional clean up by the county. DennyInDayton’s suggestion could be an opportunity for Mr. Merjos. That being said, the apparent value Mr. Merjos sees in the property will NEVER be realized, as long as the business/property remains in its current condition.

Kevin - 28-05-’14 10:07

Don’t mess with it. I see piping plover nest’s in there.

GoodOleDaysGone - 28-05-’14 10:20

If your government can have a 1000 meter buffer in every direction for a non-endangered bird, you should be able to do want you want with your own land.

Ricky - 28-05-’14 13:54
Tarheel Girl

To bad Mr. Mejos doesn’t negotiate a rental with the Concrete plant. Perhaps by the time the bridges are replaced, he could sell the property eventually and do well.

Tarheel Girl - 28-05-’14 15:33

a plant behind the park is a great idea as long as it doesn’t interfere with the church on sunday

jake - 28-05-’14 19:12

great idea

sam - 28-05-’14 20:17

Why aren’t our elected County and Island leaders communicating how they are addressing this issue at Waterfall Park? We would appreciate some openness and transparency on steps being taken, if any, and in how accelerated of a manner. This can’t be ignored because it’s now on everyone’s mind and there’s a quite large physical reminder. Our elected officials need to take a stance one way or another right now. Everyone at least deserves that much.

billfish - 29-05-’14 13:21

piping plovers nesting at waterfall?wow

samantha - 29-05-’14 20:13

Billfish’s question is a fair one, don’t you think? This issue can’t be allowed to simply languish in secret. It’s on everyone’s mind – locals, property owners and visitors alike. It IS a problem NOW regardless of what we think it meant to the Island way back when. We would all appreciate knowing that at least the problem is acknowledged and a plan is in place or beginning to be developed.

Jodie - 30-05-’14 12:53

actually billfish your wrong an eyesore doesn’t take money out of other business pockets but if Steve came back and built a first class all inclusive park and sold everything from souvenir’s to food at real world prices not hatteras prices he would put the majority of those small businesses out of business its not like he doesn’t understand business

jimmy - 30-05-’14 14:11

I have been coming to Hatteras Island several times a year since 1986..and own a cottage in Avon…..Neither I nor my family ever visited the Waterfall Park…and it was a mess long before Irene….Cannot believe the county cannot get rid of this eyesore…

OBXDayton - 30-05-’14 19:53
salvo jimmy

Unfortunately OBXDayton, it is not a straight forward process.

As I said before I have been trying for years to get something done about a falling down house in my neighborhood.

Based on this article about “safety” issues at Waterfall Park (WP), I got the county to send a building inspector to the house, telling him that if there are “safety” issues at WP, surely there are some at this house.

The inspector took a look and told me that the steps, decks and building are still sound enough to not be an issue, so there could be no action regarding safety.

However, he did say that the dilapidated condition and overgrowth of vegetation, to the point he could not even walk all the way around the building, might deserve some zoning action. He is having a zoning person take pictures of the house which will be sent up the chain of command with the idea that a nuisance notification to the owners might be in order.

I was advised that I would be kept informed regarding the situation.

salvo jimmy - 31-05-’14 05:53
salvo jimmy

BTW should anyone want to take a look for comparison to WP, the house I’m after is on the corner of Monitor Lane and Galleon Drive in Hatteras Colony in Salvo, just about across Monitor from the Village Connery.

salvo jimmy - 31-05-’14 05:56

I hate to say it but until the locals get serious about zoning rules, we can all expect more of the same. Heck, I sold my cottage over something similar a while back…an auto repair garage popped up over night at the corner of our subdivision! Take a look around- this shouldn’t shock anyone.

FormerOBXOwner - 03-06-’14 00:29

FormerOwner, you lived in a subdivision but complain about an auto shop. Silly

Bud - 03-06-’14 13:31

the real locals don’t want zoning its the new business owners like trip that do

george - 04-06-’14 18:22

maybe the contractors want to rent some rooms

john - 04-06-’14 21:19

maybe u can rent some of your condos to the plant employees

geoge - 04-06-’14 21:29

Two contractors have rented the house next to me. They are working on the lego bridge project.

Bud - 05-06-’14 16:21

I agree, the “real” locals don’t want zoning regulations. It’s quite clear when the non-real locals visit. It’s our choice I guess. I still love to visit but will never consider owning there again, regardless.

FormerOBXOwner - 05-06-’14 23:15

I have been coming to Hatteras for 30 years. And in that time I never ONCE have been to that ‘park’ and neither have the 20 odd people who come to Hatteras as part of our yearly family trip. It is an eye sore and an embarrassment. It needs to be removed immediately. The owner is delusional if he thinks that his ‘park’ which even in it’s prime was little more than a dump contributed anything to the island. People come to Hatteras because of its natural beauty, not for a run down half-rate water park.

Carly - 24-06-’14 09:49
salvo jimmy

Update. Just received my RWS Civic Assn newsletter.

They have actually now made 3 offers on WF park. As noted the 1st was rejected and a 2nd one got no response.

Some cleanup was done after the county got involved but it apparently was not satisfactory and then Arthur sort of put the condition back to square one.

Now RWS has made a 3rd offer to buy.

salvo jimmy - 30-07-’14 07:17
Alpine Joe

What about the rotting rubber tires that form a ring around what used to be the ‘race track’? They hold water. Prime breeding opportunities for mosquitos. Can anyone say malaria?! Seriously, this is a serious blight on our landscape, and a health hazard. Family and friends have been coming to the island for 30-plus years. Not one person ever expressed a desire to visit the tacky tourist detraction. Tear it down.

Alpine Joe - 03-08-’14 17:25

Well until the owner makes up his mind I would request the county enforce the safety laws. In other I have lived the owner can be held reasonable for anyone going on the property. If that someone enters the area Posted the owner are held responsible for any one getting hurt. The owner should construct a 6’ft fence around all of the property. I feel sure the County and the State have laws about pools and open pit’s being left open without securing or fencing of the area. I think I am the closest local to the location. Me, I would like to see the land leveled and built into a high ground area for the locals use during storms. Another request is that the North Carolina DOT would move the yellow flashing lights to the intersection of Atlantic drive and #12. The amount of foot, car & bicycle traffic coming down Atlantic drive as it may help. The light looks to have been put in for the park use for pedestrian crossing.

ClydeThompson - 23-08-’14 14:49

Not going to lie, I actually love seeing it. I’m staying up in Salvo over my birthday and Thanksgiving this year, but have been here twice in the past. It was great to photograph for my senior graduation project, but then again I am not a resident. Just glad I got photos before it was rebuilt or torn down. Put it to vote with the permanent residents would be my idea, allot it for something to benefit all. The open pools and pits and rusted metal are easily accessible and dangerous now, I will say that.

Cait - 23-11-’14 14:02
T Albright

It would be nice if the owner would realize the property is no longer a nostalgic place to remember. It is now an eyesore and shame he cannot see this! As a visitor, for several years, I’d love to see someone care enough about the OBX visitors and residents and built a small amusement park for the kids.

T Albright - 21-03-’15 11:46

I came to Waterfall park as a 6, 7, and 8 yr old in the 80s and 90s. Some good memories, yes, but I don’t ever get nostalgic when I see the wreck that is now there. I’d LOVE to see this turned in a public park (similar to Salvo Day use), or similar to Windmill Point in Nags Head. I am a tourist from Richmond and this place is sooo ugly. Its gotta go. With all the visitors from around the world descending on Rodanthe to kiteboard, why not milk this property to that tourist crowd?

Seth - 02-06-’15 22:33

Having Waterfall is much better than having a subdivision!

Bud - 03-06-’15 06:37

Dude is trolling residents with the light house comment. Seriously bruh?

Robin - 10-07-’15 10:48

Remember when the county condemned Serendipity (Inn at Rodanthe) in Mirlo Beach? The county condemned it due to being a public nuisance allowing the ocean to overwash highway 12. They condemned it and gave the owners short notice to remove the house or the county would do it at the owners expense. How come the county could get results then and not now at WP.

tj - 21-07-’15 12:38

I vacationed in OBX in 2008, loved Waterfall park, the go karts and all. We returned this year, 2015 in search of the great time we experienced back then, my son 7 at the time, now 13 looked forward to riding the sand karts,nascarts,and grand prix, only to find the park in shambles. Something we looked forward to so much, was now a huge disappointment, the park was rundown,closed. I spoke with a local store owner about the park, only to hear there’s nothing known as far as what will happen to the park, because of the bridge issues and lack of support from the community. I didn’t come to Rodanthe to see the lighthouse, house from a movie, we can for a fun filled time with the family at waterfall park. Please get the surrounding issues corrected so the park can either be reopened or sold.

David - 26-08-’15 08:00

I unfortunately did not start coming to OBX until after this park was closed, but the photographer in me has wanted to stop and take pictures of it for a few years! Finally just took a drive over there and thought it was awesome. I wanted to explore it so badly, but I’m very mindful of no trespassing signs. I can understand the views shared here, but just wanted to offer up that not everyone thinks it’s an eye sore. Some see it as a place where a million memories were made.

Cassie - 13-09-’15 16:58
Victoria Givens

I have a house in Avon and even I am tired at passing by this mess! Imagine what visitors must think! Waves should condemn the land, clean it up and sell it to recoup their costs. This has gone on way too long! Now it’s 2016!

Victoria Givens - 01-03-’16 10:05

New to this area and , yes, that land is a disgusting eyesore. Locals say they don’t even notice it anymore, which is a sad testament to how long this saga has persisted. Anyone who says there are other things more offensive are lying. This man has no intention of re-building. He’s bitter because he feels like the county owes him for having brought tourists here. Well, guess what? Your reward was making money from your park visitors, not the county. I should tell my fiance that the county should’ve paid for his clean-up after Irene. He would laugh his keester off! I vow never to become complacent about that horrible, dilapidated area. Don’t sell it! Just clean it!!!!!!!

Arlene - 10-03-’16 18:13

I got news for you . I went there in 2004 before the hurricane and that place was a dangerous dump then. I would never take the time and go back

Dean - 26-06-’17 20:44

A property owner, whether residential or commercial, has a duty to preserve their property and operate in a way that is in the best interests of the island. I am not a native, but a yearly visitor with hopes and dreams of becoming a full-time resident one day. I think it is exceedingly selfish, foolish, and short-sighted to waste such beautiful, otherwise pristine land. When I look at this place, not only do I see an eyesore, I see so many possibilities and missed opportunities that would benefit local residents and tourists alike. There are a finite number of miles on Highway 12 and to think that any fraction of them are being wasted by an owner who reaps no enjoyment from the property and refuses to maintain it makes me a little sick to my stomach. The owner’s argument that, at one time (which people are debating), the property brought in revenue to the island is weak. That was then and this is now, as they say. In order to be great you have to stay that way by protecting your property and maintaining it. If you can’t do that, you have to let it go; let someone else have the opportunity to love and cherish the land.

Allison - 12-07-’17 20:58
hanapad Frisco

That place always was an eyesore and not in keeping with the beauty of HI. This owner is ridiculous to think that his waterpark was why people crossed the bridge- actually – his waterpark was the reason i bought a house in Frisco instead of Salvo where I would have to see this mess often. I understand the zoning issue- but this is a danger to the pubic and should be removed for that reason alone.

hanapad Frisco - 22-07-’17 05:17

What a jerk! Sorry, Mr. Inflated Ego, your water park was not some major land mark that drew people to Hatteras Island. It was a second rate amusement park that had NOTHING on our lighthouse or any of our other local attractions. Give me a break!

Jenny - 28-08-’17 16:26
Billy Joe

How about if a contingency of Islanders with protest signs show up in your front yard in VB and make sure all the news stations are there.
Then we move on to your country club, church, business and relatives’ houses and do the same thing. You ruin our island, we ruin your family’s reputation. Fair enough?

Billy Joe - 02-09-’17 18:11

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