Keepin' cool

Nine-year-old Olivia Wimberger jumps into the pool at SandVenture Aquatic Park in Shakopee in 2016.

The city of Shakopee is seeking feedback and ideas from residents for future improvements to SandVenture Aquatic Park, which will be incorporated into the SandVenture feasibility study and overall Lions Park Master Plan.

The Shakopee City Council has been exploring options to update fixtures at the 50-year-old aquatic park. At a business meeting July 14, the council discussed necessary updates, including the $40,000 installation of a safer chlorine system and $740,000 worth of infrastructure updates.

The chlorinated sand-bottom pond in Shakopee was built in 1969 and has been a popular summer destination for Shakopee families, Shakopee Parks and Recreation Director Jay Tobin said in July, although it’s not a revenue-generator for the city. In the past 10 years, the city has paid an average of $227,000 annually in necessary expenses to keep SandVenture up and running — money that comes from the city’s operating levy.

In 2019, it cost $333,700 to keep the park up and running, and the city only brought in $183,600 from selling memberships, lessons and concessions. That means, on average, each household in Shakopee paid about $7 in property taxes to keep the pool going in 2019. But there’s a problem according to city staff: the pool is getting old, and before more money can be generated from it, more money needs to be put in.

In July, staff presented the council with two options to add upgrades to the aquatic park to potentially boost revenue and decrease SandVenture’s burden on taxpayers over the long-term. One option was to pursue the outline in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which includes adding a restaurant, pool cabanas and a sand volleyball court. The parks plan recommended the city perform a business plan analysis to look into the long-term financial benefits of these improvements, Director of Planning and Development Michael Kerski said.

The other option was to completely raze and reconstruct the aquatic park, adding water slides and other attractions, which would cost $11 million. Council seemed to anonymously rule this option out for now, though there was no vote. Kerski said the “payback on this is a very long time,” and the council did not express enthusiasm for the option.

The council gave city staff consensus to pursue the necessary $800,000 in maintenance repairs and a chlorine system update, and directed staff look into ways SandVenture could eventually either generate more money or operate under less money.

Ideas

The community is now invited to share ideas in regards to the park using the city’s new interactive engagement tool, according to a release from the city.

Suggestions can be posted to the online idea wall, and suggestions for overall improvements to Lions Park can be made on the city’s idea map.

A virtual open house regarding future SandVenture improvements was held Jan. 28. Login information is available at www.ShakopeeMN.gov/sandventuresurvey.

Get the latest updates on the proposed SandVenture improvements by subscribing for news at www.ShakopeeMN.gov/subscribe and choosing “SandVenture Improvements.”

Residents can learn more at www.ShakopeeMN.gov/parkprojects.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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