12:11pm

Mon March 31, 2014
Local

Nacogdoches rallies private donors to build water park

A $2 million fundraising effort in Nacogdoches will secure a Splash Kingdom Waterpark for the city. Nacogdoches formed a public-private partnership with Splash Kingdom to build an $8 million water park. 

The city of Nacogdoches erects a fundraising thermometer on the site of the future Splash Kingdom Waterpark, as private donors support the public-private venture.

Private donors have stepped up to pay for a quarter of the cost through a charitable fund for this entertainment venue that will be built on city property. Nacogdoches doesn't have economic development tax dollars to make this project happen, according to Judy McDonald, president of Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation and chair of the fundraising committee.

“People say, well why would we put charitable dollars into a project that’s going to be a for-profit? Yet, cities across the nation do that all the time with industry and other venues," McDonald said.

Kingdom Perspectives LLC, would not have built a water park in Nacogdoches without this economic incentive, according to McDonald. She says an anonymous donor kicked in $1 million as seed money.

When the city looked at trends in public pool use, she says it just made sense to abandon the old rectangle pool model. 

“Traditional city pool attendance is really going by the wayside. That’s one of the reasons why Nacogdoches was looking at a facility like Splash Kingdom because that is where the people are going to. They’re not going to traditional swimming pools in cities," McDonald says.

The city is about $300,000 shy of its goal. McDonald aims to have the fundraising wrapped up by the end of May. She says Splash Kingdom will break ground this summer and have the water park ready to open in spring 2015.

It expects to attract more than 40,000 visitors from outside Nacogdoches each season. Kingdom Perspectives currently operates three water parks in Shreveport, Canton, Texas, and in the Dallas Metroplex.