Water park official gives update on attraction for Nacogdoches

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The president of Splash Kingdom Waterparks, Johnny Blevins, spoke before Nacogdoches Rotary clubs. Blevins is entering into a private-public agreement to build and operate Splash Kingdom Nacogdoches.

The city is donating the land on University Drive. Efforts continue to raise about $625,000 in private funds to fulfill a $2.3 million commitment. If successful, Blevins will spend at least $6 million in constructing the water park. A similar agreement has worked in Canton, Hudson Oaks and Shreveport. Another is under construction in Greenville.

"From a tax revenue base, water parks are great opportunities for cities because people are coming in and they're spending some money, incremental, additional money in the city that is different from any other business they have in the city," said Blevins. "So they're having fun and enjoying the people and people are coming in from outside the borders of the city that they put that in, spending money in that town and then going back home."

Economic developers have $1 million in seed money from a donor. Other donations are made in $100,000 or $300,000 increments.

The goal is to have the financial obligation met by may of this year, so construction can begin in September.

Originally the city attempted to develop a water park solely by donations. The fundraising proved to be difficult. After doing more homework they discovered Blevins' company. The former high school educator discovered he was more adapt to the business world than the classroom.

"We're a very family friendly business. Our goal is to glorify God while providing a fun, safe recreational area for families," said Blevins.

Blevins says people are passing up Nacogdoches to use his water parks in Canton and Shreveport.

"A perfect example is Lufkin Project Graduation sends a bus load of seniors to Canton to celebrate at the water park there on graduation night," Blevins said. They could be coming to Nacogdoches instead."

The water park has been a tough sale by founders. Blevins isn't worried. He says it began as a solely city project.

"Now we're taking the lion's share of that expense. We will operate, handle the liability. It will be ours to run," said Blevins.

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