Full steam ahead for proposed Little Elm aquatic park
Town officials will move forward with a plan to bring a “one-of-a-kind” indoor waterpark to Little Elm.
During Tuesday’s workshop meeting, the Little Elm Town Council was presented with a feasibility study for a town aquatic park. The study revealed that because Little Elm is a fast-growing town and is located in the DFW Metroplex, it is “uniquely positioned” to have a water park that has “significant regional appeal.”
“The water park should be indoors or at least partially indoors,” said Terry Brannon, aquatic consultant. “It should complement water play available at Lake Lewisville, local beaches and other outdoor aquatic facilities.”
Brannon’s firm, The C.T. Brannon Corporation, based its feasibility study on the local economy, nearby competing facilities, demand for a facility and surveys from Little Elm residents. He said the initial construction budget should be at least $14 million for a 38,000-square-foot water park. The estimated time for design and construction is 15 months
Among other amenities, it should have multiple aquatic features such as multi-level structures, a splasher pool and surfing and wake boarding.
“Play features must be supplemented, replaced or rotated seasonally to make sure the park experience does not become stale,” Brannon said.
In addition, Brannon recommend a landscaped facility with a combination of rock features, live plants and synthetic plants. He said it would need to have an environmental feel rather than a cold, concrete feel.
Little Elm’s indoor water park should also have two party rooms that are at least 500 square feet, Brannon said.
“You need a revenue source,” Brannon said. “One could be renting party rooms. Those are really popular and book up early.”
The estimated operating costs were approximately $2.8 million per year, including the existing recreation center but not debt service. After revenue, Brannon projected that the water park would have a $34,000 operating loss its first year. However, he said now Little Elm has a $250,000 operating loss with its recreation center.
“In the second year I think you could break even or make a small profit depending on how you market it,” Brannon said.
Brannon said in order to bring the water park to profitable status, the town would need to market it outside Little Elm.
“I think you could attract people from outside the town. People will drive the miles to come to something unique,” Brannon said. “An indoor facility of this caliber is nowhere around.”
Town Manager Matt Mueller, said the goal is to both serve residents Little Elm and have a water park that is a regional draw.
“The next step would be spending significant money on design,” Mueller said.
The town will also move forward with an economic impact study that will show how the water park would impact the local economy and tourism.
“When we first started talking about this I was very cynical,” said Mayor David Hillock. “[I thought] if it’s not going to be awesome we shouldn’t do it, but this is something people will come to. Seeing this changed my mind.”
Source: Little Elm Journal