The Community Facility Advisory Board recommended Wright Park as the location for the municipal water park. A new hotel interested in building nearby didn't hurt the case for Wright, either.
Wright Park will be the home of the proposed municipal water park and likely a neighbor to a new hotel if the recommendation by the "Why Not Dodge?" advisory committee is approved by the joint city and county commissions.
The Leisure Hotels and Resorts development group, developers of the Holiday Inn Express on Wyatt Earp Boulevard, will also seek to build a new 90-bed to 120-bed hotel in the area contingent on the approval of Wright Park as the water park's site.
"The ability to co-locate the hotel in connection with the Aquatics Park within Wright Park, we believe would create a successful platform for not only our business, but to promote regional tourism in Dodge City," CEO Steve Olson wrote to the city.
The Community Facilities Advisory board unanimously chose Wright Park over the other three contenders: All-4-Fun on 14th Avenue south of the river, Legends Park and the St. Mary of the Plains campus.
All-4-Fun and Legends would have required additional land purchases by the city, and the St. Mary campus had limited access and visibility compared to the other potential venues.
Wright Park also falls within the city's "heritage district" which would allow for STAR bonds development. Those special incentive bonds allow property developers to offset the cost of infrastructure development.
There is potential for sharing costs between the water park and the hotel, Parks Director Paul Lewis said, but reiterated that the process is preliminary.
The hotel group liked the synergy between a hotel and a water park within walking distance, Lewis said. Advisory board members discussed creating a pedestrian-friendly corridor for the project.
Wright Park, like the other three city-owned properties, is not without its particular development considerations. A drainage structure will need to be moved or changed which will require involvement by the Army Corp of Engineers.
"I think it's a great choice, and it provides some additional energy downtown," Lewis said. The Wright Park location, on the southwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Park Street, also allows for future expansion of the site, one of the considerations in keeping the park up to date, if necessary.
Neither city staff members nor Water's Edge, the contracted design firm, made a recommendation beyond outlining the available properties with enough space or close to enough space to fit the water park.
Only publicly-owned properties were proposed to allow for more funding for the park, currently proposed at $10 million.