The Shakopee Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted Monday to waive a $211,000 water capacity charge to allow the Lions Club to build an all-inclusive, donated splash pad in Lions Park.
The last-minute decision saved the splash pad, which almost slipped away to Delano or another city after Lions Club chairman Tracy Pink and his team were gobsmacked by the fee.
Shakopee native Greg Stoks offered his all-inclusive splash pad to the city and Lions Club this summer. But the project was time-sensitive, because Stoks wants to test and market his completed invention before the weather turns cold.
At the June 17 SPUC meeting, Tracy Pink, chair of the Lions Park Committee, pleaded with SPUC to consider waiving the fee.
“This is for the kids,” Pink said, noting that if the commission didn’t subsidize the charge, the splash pad would likely go to Delano. The commission tabled the issue until more research could be done.
At Monday’s SPUC meeting, there was little deliberation about whether the water connection charge should be waived. At the beginning of the meeting, Utilities ManagerJohn Crooks shared a letter he received from a girl who lives in Shakopee.
“Please let there be a splash pad,” the girl, Brynn, wrote. “Also, please let the price go down.”
Commissioners and staff also received an email from Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars requesting SPUC waive the water capacity charge to allow the construction of the splash pad. Commissioner Mathew Meyer said this was the biggest factor in his approval of the waived fee.
“My support of this is because of Mayor Mars’ letter,” Meyer said. “He is an elected official... and that plays a big factor in my decision.”
The commission also tossed around ways to reduce the fee by recycling the splash pad water or drilling a private well. But SPUC President Terry Joos asked Crooks to add those possibilities to a future agenda, noting that SPUC will cover the water capacity fees originally placed on the Lions Club whether SPUC finds a way to make the splash pad more efficient or not.
Lions Club members Pink, Scott Trosen and Chip Menke, all of whom are involved in the splash pad project, said they were elated with the decision.
“This was a big deal tonight,” Pink said. “We needed this to move forward. So we’re very excited.”
“I think we made an informed decision, which I’m very proud of,” Joos said at the end of the meeting.
The possibility of losing the splash pad created ripples across Shakopee, probing the city council to ask city staff to look into the measures necessary to move SPUC back under the jurisdiction of the city, which will be presented at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Kayden Fox, who ran for Shakopee City Council in 2017, created an online petition to merge the two entities.
Joos also alluded to the comments made about SPUC at the last city council meeting, as well as on social media, saying he plans on addressing “some of the things that have been thrown out there” soon.