DELANO, MN – Though official approval is still needed, the Delano City Council reached consensus regarding the entry fee for the splash pad during its Tuesday evening work session.
Council members spoke in favor of the splash pad generating revenue to offset ongoing expenses. City staff recommended an entry fee of $3, and four council members supported that recommendation.
Councilman Jason Franzen spoke in favor of charging a lower entry fee initially.
“My hope is, if we have a lower price than $3 . . . I want it to be a success, and I want people to be enthusiastic and come,” Franzen said. “We can always adjust it later, but then we’ll have buy in from the community if they like it.”
City Administrator Phil Kern said the operational expenses are estimated at $24,000 to $28,000 annually, with that number going up to about $32,000 if two attendants operate the splash pad rather than one. He estimates that at least 7,000 people will visit the splash pad each year, based on the average number of visitors at Princeton’s splash pad, which also charges $3 admission.
The fee would apply to everyone except stroller-bound babies.
Resident Andrea Lahrs spoke against the $3 fee, saying she had been to six or seven free splash pads this summer.
“Given the choice, I’d probably go there and make a day out of it rather than go to this splash pad,” Lahrs said.
“And spend how much in gas?” Mayor Dale Graunke asked. “We’re providing a unique thing in the city. You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to fight traffic. St. Louis Park, Chanhassen, all those cities have such a huge budget. We’re looking at having $30,000 in our budget that we don’t want to.”
Councilwoman Betsy Stolfa noted that the $3 entry fee was suggested based on the idea of trying to break even but not make a profit.
Proposed rules and regulations call for season passes to be available for $25 for Delano residents and local employees, and $35 for non-residents; with a family maximum of $75 for Delano residents and local employees, and $100 for non-residents.
“They’d have to produce an employee badge or something on letterhead saying they’re employed here,” Kern said of local employees wanting the discounted rate. The Park and Recreation Commission proposed the idea after initially recommending that Delano School District residents be given a discounted rate, which many city council members opposed.
“I like the idea of tiers for season passes,” resident Kelly Froehle said. “I like the idea of breaking even and not raising taxes.”
Councilman Jon Sutherland had recommended a senior rate, which did not garner the support of the full council. Stolfa said if grandparents bring their grandchildren, they could sit outside the splash pad.