The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

October 11, 2012

Details on water park still to be worked out

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — There aren’t a lot of details being released yet about the Splash Kingdom water park which has been proposed for Greenville.

Individuals connected with the project said Wednesday that negotiations are still underway regarding the park, and that it is too soon to release specifics.

But it would appear that Splash Kingdom may be included as part of the Towne Center development along Interstate 30, rather than Hawaiian Falls as had been previously announced.

The Greenville City Council voted Tuesday to instruct Board of Development President Greg Sims to pursue a memorandum of understanding agreement with Splash Kingdom.

Splash Kingdom recently approached the Board of Development about expanding their operations locally and Sims presented the project to the Council during Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Splash Kingdom is wanting to build their fourth water park development in Northeast Texas, to go along with their existing facilities in Canton and Shreveport, La. and a park under construction in Hudson Oaks, Texas.

When reached Wednesday, Sims said there weren’t any additional details which as to what the proposed park would look like or what it would include.

“There is not a schematic at this point,” Sims noted. “We have to work on that.”

Sims also explained that the location of the park is also being discussed.

“All those details will be worked out later,” Sims said, adding the Council’s vote only instructed him to enter into the memorandum of understanding with Splash Kingdom.

“Then work with the chosen site developer,” Sims said.

The Hawaiian Falls Adventure Park which had been planned for Greenville was to be located on approximately 14 acres at the eastern end of the Towne Center.

The Greenville Towne Center is under development by III:I Emerging Market Partners (EMP) in Plano and is expected to stretch along the eastbound Interstate 30 service road, starting just east of the Home Depot parking lot, with Center Point Lane as its western boundary.

EMP President Scott Steenson said he had spoken with Sims Wednesday and learned of the Council’s decision, but that it wouldn’t impact the status of the development.

“Splash Kingdom will be the people we go with,” Steenson said. “It was all tied into what the city wanted to do, so Splash Kingdom will be what we go with.”

Last month, Steenson told the board of the City of Greenville Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 1 that the company was wanting to proceed with Phase 1 of the Towne Center.

Steenson said Phase 1 would consist of pad sites along the service road, as well as the construction of the initial infrastructure, entries and the first parking areas for the overall project.

And yet Johnny Blevins, president of Splash Kingdom Waterparks, said Wednesday that negotiations still need to be completed.

“We’re definitely in discussions,” Blevins said. “We’re on the same page on a lot of items.”

However, Blevins said he could not comment on whether the company was committing itself to building in Greenville.

“We’re still in discussions with a couple of other cities, “ Blevins said.

Splash Kingdom’s business model involves privately owned entertainment facilities in the $8 to $10 million value range that require some public incentive and/or infrastructure assistance in the short term; which could include land, public infrastructure, tax abatements and/or grants. Splash Kingdom would provide approximately five full time positions and 125 seasonal part time positions. A Splash Kingdom water park would be included on the property tax rolls, generating property and sales taxes as well as water/sewer city revenue and GEUS electric revenue.

Splash Kingdom would have 100 percent liability and responsibility for the park operations and future capital expansion projects.

The city would have no liability or responsibility for the operations in any way other than typical city inspections.