homepage logo

Sun Splash Family Waterpark lease approved

City will no longer operate facility it owns; private partner also to provide repairs, upgrades

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 21, 2021

The city of Cape Coral has entered into a 30-year lease for the operation and maintenance of Sun Splash Family Waterpark.

The public-private partnership will be profitable to the city, which has subsidized the facility for years, officials said.

ProParks, which runs many similar style parks nationwide, submitted its unsolicited proposal late last year. The city then issued an invitation for other companies to submit proposals with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department being the only other one received

After discussion at a Council workship meeting last month, the city negotiated with ProParks and drafted an ordinance that would make the private-public partnership a reality.

ProParks will lease the park for 30 years in exchange for lease payments and a percentage of gross revenues. The firm will be responsible for running and maintaining the facility, except for the parking lot.

The payment terms will be minimum rent for July, August and September and additional rent on March 31 for the prior lease year.

Minimum payment will be $10,000 per year for the first 4 years, $15,000 for years 5 through 10, $20,000 for years 11 through 20 and $25,000 annually for years 21 through 30. Additional lease payments will be 15 percent above gross receipts of $2.1 million.

Over the course of 30 years, the city is projected to make $14.6 million in revenues with the P3, as opposed to paying $9.2 million in subsidies during that same time frame.

ProParks has a plan for Sun Splash, including a rebranding with a new logo and website and the ability to purchase tickets online and not have to go to the park directly to get them. There also will be special events they want to build on.

They also plan to refurbish the Lazy River and expand the Pirate’s Cove play area, as well as add 25 cabanas throughout the premises.

The five non-contract city employees who worked at Sun Splash have accepted positions in other areas of the Parks & Recreation department.

Former mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz, who saw Sun Splash built on his watch, said he was concerned the revenue potential may be just a mirage.

“You pay out $500,000 for expenses to the park every year. If you don’t make those expenses go away, 30 years, if nobody is laid off, you just lost a million dollars,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Those costs have to be gone.”

There wasn’t much discussion on the matter from council, which passed the ordinance unanimously.