Lake Chelan water park taking state to court over stay home order

LAKE CHELAN, Wash – A popular Washington water park is taking Governor Jay Inslee and another state agency to court, saying the stay home order that has shut down their business should not be enforced.

The Freedom Foundation is filing the claim on behalf of Slidewaters LLC, a family-owned and operated waterpark in Lake Chelan.

It filed a civil rights claim Monday in federal court in Spokane.

According to a news release last week, Slidewaters employees 150 people each summer. It cannot open under current restrictions in the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Plan. Chelan County is one of five counties still in phase one of that plan, which means restaurants and retail stores are still closed. The waterpark likely would not be able to open until at least phase three. The suit says the waterpark may not be able to open at all, under the governor’s plan.

According to the suit, Slidewaters is one of only two privately-run waterparks in eastern Washington. It has been around since 1983 and owned by the Bodner family since 2008. It typically operates for 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Slidewaters has recently undergone a major expansion and expected to recoup the costs in the 2020 season.

The Freedom Foundation says the state Department of Labor and Industries has been designated as the enforcement arm of the governor’s plan. The group says “if the governor has no authority to impose these conditions on free individuals, he has even less to delegate the dirty business of carrying out his edict to a state agency that was never designated for such a purpose.”

The group says “Nothing gives the governor the power to decide which businesses are more expendable than others – or authorizes L&I to enforce such an order.” The company faces a $10,000 fine if they open before the governor allows it.

Court filings say Slidewaters has come up with a safety plan that focuses on water quality and additional steps to maintain social distancing, guest screening, and sanitizing. It says the company is being “irreparably harmed each day that it is unable to operate.”

The request was initially filed in Chelan County Court, but was moved to federal court.

RELATED: Health Officer: Spokane Co. will not apply to advance to phase 3 this Friday

READ: Chelan judge declines to move suit against stay-home order