Carbondale City Council Approves $100k Contribution to Splash Park

Sep 12, 2012

The City of Carbondale will provide 100-thousand dollars toward the effort to build an outdoor aquatic center.

The City Council voted in favor of the plan Tuesday night.  The money will come from the city's hotel-motel tax over three years. It will be part of the Carbondale park district's effort to raise more than 600-thousand dollars it needs in matching funds for a 2.5-million dollar federal grant.   The super splash park is a 3.4 million dollar project that Mayor Joel Fritzler says will draw people to the city.  The combination splash park and competition pool is expected to generate about $479-thousand in revenue with an estimated annual operating cost of $460-thousand. Councilman Lee Fronabarger has been involved with the aquatic center working group for several years.  He says the water park will provide 75-to-80 seasonal jobs as well as create the potential for hundreds of thousands of tourism dollars related to hosting regional swim meets.

Councilwoman Jane Adams was the lone "no" vote.  While she says the splash park is long over-due... she's concerned about financial support from the community and the park district's ability to maintain the facility.  Adams says she'd like to see the city's match be a challenge to the larger community including Jackson County and neighboring communities such as Murphysboro and Carterville that will likely use the facility.  The Park District needs to raise a total of 900-thousand dollars to make the Aquatics Center a reality.  If the Park District fails to meet its match requirement, the money would be returned to the city.   Councilman Lance Jack voted in favor of the plan, but agrees there needs to be a public discussion about the water park's long term sustainability and the community's willingness to support it.

Councilwoman Corene McDaniel is confident in the Park District's ability to make the water park successful.  She says the city should do all it can to help the Park District succeed with the Super Splash Park.  McDaniel says it's a project that has been talked about for more than 40-years.

The city of Carbondale, through the Convention and Tourism Bureau, will provide $60,000 this year and $20,000 in each of the next two fiscal years.   The money will be used to help the Park District meet the match requirement for the grant. Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity says the funds would then be potentially used by the Park District to pay the city for  services it may provide to the Carbondale Park District such as water and sewer work for the Super Splash Park.   The Aquatics Center will be located at Carbondale's Superblock recreation facility.