The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

October 10, 2012

Council chooses to take Splash over Falls

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council Tuesday chose to pursue obtaining a Splash Kingdom water park for the city, instead of a proposed Hawaiian Falls Adventure Park.

Mayor Steve Reid said while the offers from both parks were welcome, the Council chose to follow-up on the proposal from the Canton-based Splash Kingdom, as the company would contribute more toward the establishment of the park.

“We just feel like what’s best for Greenville is Splash Kingdom,” Reid said.

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

Afterward, Sims explained there are still a lot of details to be hammered out as part of the agreement, including where the park will be located.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Sims said. “This is just the first step.”

Splash Kingdom recently approached the Board of Development about expanding their operations locally and Sims presented the project to the Council during an executive session as part of Tuesday’s work session. The vote came following a 45-minute executive session as part of the Council’s regular agenda Tuesday.

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 Hudson Oaks, Texas.

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.

The company Splash Kingdom 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. No location for the park had been selected as of Tuesday.

The Hawaiian Falls Adventure Park planned for Greenville would be located on approximately 14 acres at the eastern end of the Towne Center Development.

The water park would cost about $11.5 million, of which Hawaiian Falls would pay $1.5 million, and the adventure park would cost approximately $1.5 million, with the company putting up $500,000 of the cost.

The remaining amount would be paid for through the issuance of bonds, in an election which would likely be held next May. The company would be responsible for all operating costs and managing the property.

The company plans on making annual improvements to the park, again splitting the cost with the City of Greenville.

According to Sims, Splash Kingdom offers a summertime family water park entertainment center on approximately 10 to 14 acres with attractions including wave pool, lazy river, multi slide high rise slide tower, large children’s splash park area, corporate picnic facilities, full food and non-alcoholic beverage concessions, group pavilions, private cabanas, and exterior park public picnic areas.

Splash Kingdom’s slogan is “Glorifying God while providing a safe, fun, recreation experience for families”.

Council member Dr. Joseph Perks was impressed by how the city was being courted by two different water park companies.

“It says something very positive about Greenville itself,” Perks said.

Reid agreed and said it was nice not to have Greenville competing with other cities for a development.

“This time we had businesses fighting over us,” Reid said.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Dailey noted how a town hall meeting was conducted to present the proposal from Hawaiian Falls, which included a multi-media presentation.

“I think it shows everyone we want to do everything we can,” Dailey said. “I don’t think they can say they didn’t feel welcome.”

Council member Renee Francey also said it was a tough decision between the two proposals, but that the Splash Kingdom offer came down to dollars and cents.

“It is just going to benefit us financially,” Francey said.