By A.C. Hall
Before the regularly scheduled Economic Development Cor-poration meeting last Thursday, a joint meeting between the EDC and the City Council was held. After a closed door executive session, the two entities returned to open session and set the stage for the possibility of a water park coming to White Settlement.
The EDC unanimously passed a motion to authorize city staff to move forward with negotiations on project #79. Directly after that, the city council voted unanimously to approve the project and instruct staff to move forward with it. This business marked the end of the joint meeting.
As the EDC meeting got underway, the details surrounding project #79 were revealed. The EDC is in negotiations to bring a Hawaiian Falls Waterpark and a companion Adventure Park USA to the open field next to Veterans Park and the Animal Control Shelter.
“We do believe Hawaiian Falls is coming to town,” EDC Director Jim Ryan said.
It was pointed out several times that nothing is set in stone as negotiations are still underway.
“It’s still a negotiation, but they want to be here and we want them here,” Ryan said.
Hawaiian Falls Waterparks can be found in several surrounding cities such as Garland, Roanoke, and Mansfield, but Ryan said White Settlement will be one of the few places to have both the water park and adventure park in the same location.
Open year round, Adventure Park USA contains features such as rope courses, climbing features, ziplines, and obstacle courses. Hawaiian Falls Waterparks have features such as water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers.
With negotiations ongoing, no details about the cost of this project were available. One thing that was discussed was the impact this project would have on the city. More growth as well as higher property values were just a few things mentioned as benefits the Hawaiian Falls would bring to White Settlement. Mayor Jerry Burns talked about what this project could mean if it becomes a reality.
“This may be a historic night for our City; it may bring us into the 21st century,” Mayor Burns said. “I hope all of our citizens get on board and we move forward with what looks like a very bright future for our city.” The Grizzly Detail will continue to follow this story as negotiations move forward with Hawaiian Falls.
More Business Updates
The Hawaiian Falls negotiation wasn’t the only business news Ryan gave to the board. The status of the Best Western Elite hotel coming in near the IHOP on Cherry Lane was updated for the board.
“We should have a hotel in the ground within six months,” Ryan said.
The empty Conn’s building next to Academy was also mentioned, with Ryan saying a restaurant/entertainment business has inquired about coming into the space. Trampoline park Flight Deck is doing great business according to Ryan. These updates, along with the chance of soon bringing a water park to the city, had the entertainment potential of White Settlement being discussed.
“We might be the entertainment center of the western metroplex,” Ryan said.
Housing additions in the Sun View area of White Settlement were also highlighted, as Ryan spoke about the $3.3 million investment the recently approved 22 house Sun View Phase 6-B represents in the community. Ryan informed EDC that another Sun View Addition, this one made up of 24 new homes, will soon be coming before the city for approval. If approved, it will represent another $3.6 million investment into the community.
Additional businesses mentioned in the report were the Seattle’s Best Coffee on Alta Mere near Sam’s which should start construction soon, a game center and a gift shop that have opened in the strip center at 100 South Las Vegas Trail, a new Chinese take-out restaurant coming in next to New York Joe’s Pasta on Alta Mere and Williamson HVAC breaking ground on a new building on White Settlement Road.
Mayor Jerry Burns said he was pleased with all of the progress. Ryan seemed optimistic as he too commented on his business report. “We’re coming back,” Ryan said.
Budget Work Session
City Manager Linda Ryan led the EDC through a budget work session, but cautioned them that it was “early yet” in the budget process. The sales tax numbers have been a big subject lately, and earlier in the meeting Linda Ryan confirmed that they’re still running around 25% behind on projected sales tax for the current budget year. This has influenced the sales tax budget projections for the upcoming year.
“I have been very conservative with the sales tax,” Linda Ryan said.
The new budget projects $400,000 less in sales tax than the current budget. That’s a 25% reduction, which falls exactly in line with the shortfall the EDC has experienced over the life of the current year’s budget.
Other things pointed out in the proposed budget included $25,000 for land purchases, which is down from $50,000 in the current budget. A vehicle for the Parks department that got put on hold in the current budget is back in the proposed budget.
The final numbers on the budget show an ending balance of $1.18 million for the EDC, but a $600,000 deficit for the 2013-2014 budget itself. Linda Ryan explained that $550,000 of that deficit comes from financial assistance to hotels. $275,000 in assistance is committed to the Best Western Elite that is coming in this year, and Linda Ryan stated that the same individual was going to bring a second hotel to the city. The second hotel would be looking for $275,000 in financial assistance as well.
EDC Director Jim Ryan told the board that just because things are in the budget doesn’t mean they’ll be spent. He also spoke about the Small Business Grant program that has been in the budget for several years with a $100,000 commitment. That money has yet to be spent over the past budgets because the details of the program haven’t been decided. Jim Ryan pointed to this as a possible item that could be removed in order to wipe away some of the upcoming budget’s deficit.
As talks turned to the possibility of further projects that could be done, sprucing up the overflow parking at Veteran’s Park and making it more professional looking was something mentioned.
“It would really dress up the entry to the city,” Jim Ryan said.
New EDC board member Paul Moore suggested looking at doing improvements to the skate park and basketball court at Central Park. These are areas that didn’t receive any upgrades during the recent overhaul of the park. The possibility of getting surveillance up and running in Central Park was also discussed, as there have been issues with vandalism since the overhaul of the park was completed.
Budget discussions will continue over the coming months as the EDC finalizes their 2013-2014 budget.