A reduced lease – slashed from $43,000 this year to $20,000 – could ignite hot times at the longstanding Splash Down waterslide park at Valley Mission Park.
But one council member voted no last week, saying that extending out the lease to 2018 without an annual review was all wet.
“I guess I’m just looking at it from a business standpoint,” said Council Member Brenda Grassel, who cast the only no vote at the May 22 meeting.
Splash Down owners say that everything from the weather to competition from other municipal and county pools and aquatic centers – which have added new amenities – have hurt their business over the past few years. So much so, they have had a tough time making their lease payments.
“Splash Down has provided a wonderful community asset,” said Mike Stone, Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation director. “As you are award, they last couple of years has seen challenges for Splash Down to make some payments.”
Under the new deal, Stone said the lease will be reduced from $43,000 each year to $20,000 starting immediately, to be paid in three installments. If the payments aren’t made, the city has the option of terminating the lease.
Also, the city will collect $8,166 in November to make up for missed payments in 2011. That amount will be collected again next year to pick up the remainder owed to the city from last year.
The contract, which the city inherited from Spokane County after incorporation, at one time had been based upon gate receipts. However, in 2009, it was determined an annual fee made more sense. But sagging attendance has made even that difficult for owners Geoff and Melissa Kellogg to achieve.
The new arrangement will hopefully change that, Stone said.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” Stone said. “They have a realistic opportunity to make the payments.”
The lease rises to $25,000 per year from 2014 through 2018. Grassel, however, expressed concern the city could be leaving money on the table should the economy and attendance improve in those years.
“That’s just a ways out,” Grassel said, adding that the lease had been more than halved. “That seems like a fairly long extension.”
Council Member Chuck Hafner said Splash Down needs a chance to make a comeback.
“We want them to have a chance to be successful,” he said.
Council Member Dean Grafos agreed.
“We’re kind of partners in this thing,” he said. “(The long lease) gives them a bit of certainty.”
Mayor Tom Towey added that Splash Down “has been a good partner.”
“They’ve been a very good partner with this city,” he said.