East Bethel votes 3-2 to request proposals for feasibility study on water park

The East Bethel City Council voted 3-2 on April 3 to send out a request for proposals (RFP) on the feasibility of a water park somewhere along Highway 65 in East Bethel.

Costs for a study could range from $8,000 to $25,000. Once the city receives proposals and hard numbers, the council can decide whether to proceed with the study.

Councilmembers Robert DeRoche and Tom Ronning voted against sending out the RFP.

“I’m completely against it, “ DeRoche said, adding that he thought putting the RFP together would require only a couple hours of staff time. “But so far now we’re pushing close to 16 hours… and I think we have a lot more important or higher priority [things to do] than trying to get someone to develop a water park. Water parks, for the most part, are on the decline.”

DeRoche also said that a water park in East Bethel would not be able to compete with other community water parks.

Councilmember Heidi Moegerle, who made the motion to send out the RFP, asked to see a feasibility study that illustrates DeRoche’s comments.

“Let me see the feasibility study that says it will work,” said DeRoche.

“We’re requesting one for free,” said Moegerle, pointing out that the city need only pay for the postage to send out the request for proposals to find out how much such a study would cost.

“I think spending $8,000 to $20,000 on a feasibility study is a waste of taxpayer money,” said DeRoche.

Moegerle said that simply requesting proposals will cost nothing.

“Then we’ll find out if it is $8,000 or $20,000,” she said. “I think anything that is reasonably calculated to provide us with information on the way that we can move our city forward is valuable.”

According to City Administrator Jack Davis, the water park idea originated through a Booster Day/needs assessment survey conducted in July 2012, in which 40 of the people surveyed indicated they’d like to see a water park in East Bethel. The potential plan would be to attract a private developer to construct a hotel/resort with convention facilities and an attached indoor water park. No specific site has been identified.

Councilmember Ron Kollar joined Moegerle and Mayor Richard Lawrence in voting to send out the RFP.

“I guess I’m not really for a water park, but I’d be willing to go the next step and find out if it’s feasible,” Kollar said.