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Kalahari supporters repeat their case
Second public information session held on planned Kalahari Resorts


Date published: 12/5/2007

PHOTOS: Click here to see a photo gallery of the Kalahari resort

BY BILL FREEHLING

The turnout was smaller for last night's public information session on Kalahari Resorts' plans for a Fredericksburg hotel and water park, but the presentation was about the same as last week's session.

Last night was the last of two public forums at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center. Last week's session brought out about 100 people, while last night about 60 people attended. As was true last week, more than half of the two-hour forum involved presentations by project developers and economic development advocates on the positive effect Kalahari would have on the area.

The privately held Wisconsin-based company plans to open its African-themed complex on a 49-acre site next to the Expo Center by the end of 2009. The $200 million facility will likely include indoor and outdoor water parks, a conference center, and a 710-room resort hotel with numerous restaurant, retail and entertainment options.

Chris Hornung, vice president for planning and engineering for the Silver Cos., told the audience last night that the complex would bring millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city while generating less traffic than retail.

Hornung also noted that the amount of water Kalahari would likely use--a maximum of 260,000 gallons per day--was well within the city's capacity. He said Fredericksburg is working with the company on plans to conserve and recycle resort water for uses such as irrigation. Hornung said the company's resort in Ohio employs about 820 people. Most are service-related jobs, but about 60 are executive or management positions that pay between $50,000 and $120,000 a year, with benefits.

Questions and comments followed the presentations. Several were positive about the resort, saying it'll enhance area tourism and the local business community. Some weren't as favorable.

Cindy Kines, a Falmouth resident, said the project will have little effect on locals other than clogging roads. She also noted that as a resident of drought-affected Stafford County, she hasn't even been allowed to wash her car of late.

"As a resident, I'm just furious," she said.


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City Council members should get details at their Dec. 11 meeting on the incentives package the city has negotiated with Kalahari Resorts.

The council will hold a public hearing on the incentives Jan. 8.

Kalahari executives have said initial site work will begin in June 2008.

The resort hotel and water park is expected to open in December 2009.