CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The head of Wyoming state parks said Thursday he would negotiate for six more months with a longtime pool concessionaire at Hot Springs State Park.
Milward Simpson, director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, previously gave the owners of TePee Pools Inc. an early May deadline to remove its pool and other property.
Simpson said last month that the company failed to follow terms of its 35-year lease by not developing an acceptable master plan.
He stated in letters to company officials that he wanted to see the park developed into a world-class water park, complete with large water slides and a "lazy river" feature for floating.
Simpson said Thursday he was willing to continue negotiations for another six months as the company continues to operate. He said the state still wants to see elements such as slides and a river feature but said it's undetermined what the final plan will be.
"We've have a 24-year partnership with the Tepee Pools," Simpson said. "We'd like to see if that six months might bear some fruit in terms of ongoing negotiations on the master plan."
The company has had a concession to run a hot springs minerals bath and pools operation at the park since 1990.
Attempts on Thursday to reach attorney Ed Moriarity, who represents the company, were unsuccessful.
In a recent interview, Moriarity said company officials disagree that they had submitted an unacceptable master plan. He said the company would take the matter to court rather than leave the property.
Simpson said the state and company officials agreed recently that they share a mutual objective of creating a first-class facility at the park.
Simpson and Gov. Matt Mead have scheduled a meeting on Saturday in Thermopolis to hear public comments on the future of the park.
Mead said Thursday that Simpson has worked to deal fairly with the company and to fulfill his obligation to the people of Wyoming in managing parks to their full potential.
"This approach keeps the pool open this summer and extends the opportunity for public comment," Mead said.