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Joliet Splash Station not opening for summer

Madhu Mayer – news@thetimesweekly.com | 4/17/2019, 11:11 p.m.
A technicality during a voting procedure means Joliet's Splash Station waterpark will not open this summer and possibly could close ...
Splash Station Water Park

A technicality during a voting procedure means Joliet's Splash Station waterpark will not open this summer and possibly could close forever.

The Joliet Park District was attempting to get a subsidy of $120,000 from the City of Joliet to reopen the popular venue this summer after voters on April 2 overwhelmingly rejected the park district's referendum to help with operation and maintenance expenses. The park district referendum asked residents to approve a 58 percent property tax rate hike, of which more than 70 percent of voters opposed.

When no one on the Joliet City Council at Tuesday's meeting failed to make a motion to support the subsidy, the proposal failed on the floor.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk was a proponent of the subsidy, saying a public pool is needed in the community.

Tom Carstens, park district executive director, said the water park recorded a $180,000 loss in revenue last year. He fears the park district will have to make further budget cuts of nearly $600,000 to meet everyday expenses if additional revenues cannot be generated.

Instead of a subsidy, Joliet Councilman Larry Hug suggested raising the admission ticket price by $2 to the water park, which he said could add more than $200,000 to the park district coffers.

Resident Troy Bizenski of Joliet said that idea might work. "Something needs to be done, because if you give the park district a subsidy on the Splash Station, they may ask for something else down the road," he said. "We as voters knew cuts would be coming, but we simply cannot afford this."