The scheduled May opening of a theme park that is to be the long-awaited first phase of development for the Heritage Mountain four-seasons recreation project east of Provo has been delayed for at least a year.

In a unrelated development, Heritage Mountain Inc. president Dave McDougal is leaving that position March 31 to take a job with a Salt Lake company.The theme park a planned $5 million water recreation facility that Heritage Mountain officials have compared to Salt Lake City's Raging Waters complex will not open on Memorial Day as scheduled because of building delays, McDougal said.

Bad weather is partially to blame for the delay in construction of the water park, which is to feature a 20,000-square-foot wave pool and five water slides. But a bigger problem is the ground on which the complex will be built.

"As we did our soil testing we found that after we excavate, put in utilities and do the earth works, we'll have to wait six or eight months for the soil to settle before we can build," McDougal said.

Building prematurely on the site could lead to half a million dollars or more in damage if the earth shifts and causes cracks in the pool and other structures, he said.

Heritage Mountain Inc. now plans to begin excavation of the park site as soon as weather permits, and will allow the soil to settle over the winter before resuming construction next spring. The opening of the complex has been rescheduled for Memorial Day 1989.

McDougal meanwhile will take a new job as president of Satellite Network Affiliates, a broadcasting company that produces and televises specialized conferences for specific interest groups.

He will remain on the Heritage Mountain board of directors and will act as a consultant to the company.

"I will continue in every way to use all my best efforts in behalf of the project," McDougal said. "I think it's important to the community, to the valley and to the state. Fortunately, most of my contributions can be made as a member of the board and a consultant while I pursue my new position. I can have the best of both worlds."

The next planned phase of development at Heritage Mountain is a ski resort that would feature a funicular transportation system capable of moving 4,000 people per hour to an altitude of 7,700 feet. The resort's six planned chair lifts would provide skiers access to 4,900 vertical feet of skiing on 500 acres.

Heritage Mountain officials have said they hope the ski area can be operating by the 1989-90 ski season. But before the long-planned resort can become reality, Heritage Mountain must secure special use permits from the U.S. Forest Service to use the federal land most of the ski area would occupy.

McDougal said he expects Heritage Mountain to concentrate its efforts for the next few months on obtaining those permits, which he hopes will be awarded later this year.

The on-again, off-again resort has been the subject of many development plans since it was first conceived in 1949. The project has gone through repeated cycles of

losing its financial backers, losing its Forest Service permits and then being revived by new developers who start the cycle again by looking for financial backing and reapplying for permits.

The most recent Forest Service permits were revoked in 1985. The latest developer is Stansbury Mining, which revived the project last year with a reorganization plan approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Salt Lake City.