SandVenture Park

SandVenture in Shakopee.

The Shakopee City Council explored options to update fixtures at the 50-year-old SandVenture Aquatic Park at a business meeting July 14, 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, 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 last year. But there’s a problem: the pool is getting old, and before more money can be generated from it, more money needs to be put in, city staff said.

“It’s an old lady that’s in need of a lot of attention,” City Administrator Bill Reynolds said. “If you look at the tarps in place, the sound system, they’re in really bad shape. The infrastructure as a whole needs attention.”

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.

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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