Cape Coral considering a public-private partnership for Sunsplash
On hot summer days, Sunsplash is usually packed with people looking to cool off, but while it is a big attraction for Cape Coral, the costs are not so attractive. The city says the park’s expenses far outweigh the park’s revenues.
“It always has been a burden and like I said the city was always trying to implement things to bring in more revenue so there wouldn’t be a downfall,” says Cape Coral city council member Dan Sheppard.
Sheppard says he is for the city getting out of the water park business. The timing might be right too because a company that specializes in running water parks is interested in running Sunsplash.
The city is considering a proposal to enter into a public-private partnership with ProParks Management. The proposal calls for the company to take over operations and maintenance of the park for the next three decades.
“Over the term of the lease which I think right now is looked at 30 years we have an opportunity to make well over $10 million,” says Cape Coral city council member Tom Hayden. “Sunsplash had been in debt for a while. We had to pay a subsidy to them and this puts us in a position now where we cannot only collect revenue over a certain point from ProParks but also rent and also property taxes.”
Hayden Says the city has an opportunity to make $10,000,000 in revenue, money that could be used for other city projects. “I think it’ll be great for tourism because Sunsplash is right in the middle of what will be becoming the new Lake Kennedy Park with pickleball courts, the whole venue there, that whole complex will be beneficial for the residents. Not only for Sunsplash but for the new park that’s planned for there”
Fellow council member Dan Sheppard says it would be a big benefit to taxpayers too, “right now if the park has a bad year the city taxpayers are making up for that difference. By signing a lease with another organization it’s going to be their sole responsibility. The citizens will still have the asset in the city to enjoy but they won’t have the liability of supporting it.”
ProParks says it wants to refurbish the lazy river, add cabanas and expand the children’s play area if a deal is met. A vote on the proposal could come as soon as next month.