WILLIAMSBURG — The City of Williamsburg’s plans for the expansion of the Kentucky Splash WaterPark and Campground have been put on hold, Mayor Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison informed members of the city council on Monday.
Originally the expansion project was estimated to cost $6.3 million but inflation has raised the price of the project to almost $14 million, much more than the city had borrowed to complete the project, which is why officials began searching for additional monies through tax credits.
Harrison said on Monday that he did not think the city would qualify to receive those tax credits.
“I got an email on February the 18th from the guy who is supposed to be pushing our tax credits, our national tax credits, and I kind of started seeing the writing on the wall…I don’t think we’re going to get them,” Harrison said.
The city was going to attempt to cut some of the project down and complete what they could with the money the city had already borrowed, leaving the rest of the project for the future, but on Monday, Harrison said he believes that will actually end up costing the city more money in the long run.
“Not all of it but it will cost us money to proceed in trying to cut back on all this stuff, so my idea is sit on the money, pay them off, search for some new money, re-bid it a different way—phase one, phase two, phase three,” he said.
Harrison said the good news is that officials are working with one of the original builders of the waterpark who believes the city could still upgrade some of the water features in the park, noting that a new feature in the kiddie pool had already been ordered and will likely arrived in late May or early June.
“So, it’s bad news but it’s not terrible news,” Harrison said. “It’s not like it’s going to just fold.”
Harrison did say that the city is, however, moving forward with the sewer and road project taking place at the waterpark and campground, though Harrison noted that work on the sewer project has hit a “lull.”
“There’s actually two factors and I’ll get into the second one more,” he said. “The first one is the electrical design. It’s taking a lot longer than what they thought. The second reason that it’s going a little slower is because it’s going to be determined by the campground expansion. We want to do both of those around the same time.”
During Monday’s meeting, the city council passed an ordinance that will provide Firestone Industrial Products with an occupational tax break incentivizing the company to complete its $50 million expansion project and bring in 250 new full-time jobs to the area with it.
The city council had the first reading of the ordinance during last month’s meeting and voted to pass the ordinance during Monday night’s meeting which says that the city will be providing Firestone with a wage assessment equivalent to 75 percent of the city’s occupational license fee on the 250 new full-time jobs created by the expansion project.
According to city officials, the ordinance does not apply to any new part-time, seasonal, or contract positions created by the new expansion, just the 250 new full-time jobs. Harrison said the ordinance does not apply to the jobs already established at Firestone and that the city would continue to collect those taxes as is.
The ordinance also stipulates that Firestone would only receive the incentive for a period of five years after hitting the 250 job goal, or until it recouped $346,875, whichever comes first.
In other city council business:
-City council members approved a lease agreement on a 2022 Caterpillar Skid Steer which is a small, versatile piece of construction equipment that can be used for things like spreading gravel, snow removal, fixing potholes and cleaning out the city’s deep well.
-Acting Williamsburg Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe updated city council members on updates happening soon at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center, including redoing the front of the building and the back gymnasium.
“On the inside, we’re really going to make it really nice on the inside, make it more formal and do away with the gym look,” Sharpe said.
Harrison said the hope is that the tourism center will have more of a “convention and conference” feel to it.
-Harrison said that Cumberland Mint will begin the hiring process soon, as the facility is set to open in late summer or early fall of this year. The positions the facility will be looking to fill include: HR manager, marketing manager, marketing coordinator, gaming manager, facilities manager/director, housekeeping manager, IT manager, F&B manager, purchasing manager and payroll clerk. Resumes can be emailed to Harrison at email@example.com.