Cape Coral Budget Review Committee considers Sunsplash public-private partnership

A family water park is putting the City of Cape Coral city under water because it’s the sole operator of the business. The Budget Review Committee is exploring how a partnership could allow them to save money while also keeping the place open. But this decision could potentially cost the public in the end.

If recommended by the committee, the City of Cape Coral then must make the decision whether to continue sole operation of Sun Splash Family Waterpark and continue losing money, or save money by bringing in a private partner. However, a partner would also likely mean a hike in ticket and alcohol prices.

“I think ticket prices rising would kind of take away from the experience a little bit,” Amanda Waunsch said. “It’s always nice. Like, we know it’s a little bit cheaper to do. I could bring my friends, their kids, their families.”

Chairman George Starner of City of Cape Coral Budget Review Committee confirms it is likely prices will go up at the park. But he said a public-private partnership will allow the city to save money and use it for other special projects.

“Potentially, it could mean the savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city,” Starner said. “Right now, the city general revenue funds supports Sun Splash.”

There are those who like the sound of that.

“If it … went to something else, it could help with like road construction,” Aidan Kelley said. “So it might have a good side to it, but we’ll have to see.”

And there are others who are against the idea altogether.

“I would prefer for it to stay public,” Waunsch said. “I know a lot of my friends would also prefer that.”

The committee said the boat house is an example of how a partnership between the city and a private company can work successfully. Officials said the city made nearly $280,000 from it last year.

This idea is not close to being a final decision, and Starner said it’s more about looking at all options the city could consider.

“If you have a private company running it, it may or may not be more efficient,” Starner said. “It’s just something that needs to be explored.”

The budget committee will make a recommendation to city council for a final decision. There is no scheduled meeting for this agenda item to appear before the council currently.

“We want the park to be available to the average consumer here in Cape Coral,” Starner said.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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