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Council to take look at Kalahari ohio park
Council members headed for Ohio to look at Kalahari Resort there

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Date published: 12/31/2007


Four Fredericksburg City Council members and 10 city staff members will head to Sandusky, Ohio, this week to get a closer look at Kalahari Resorts' property there.

Mayor Tom Tomzak, Vice Mayor Kerry Devine and council members Debby Girvan and George Solley all say they think seeing the resort for themselves is important as the city prepares to vote on an incentives package to help lure the resort to the Silver Cos.' Celebrate Virginia tourism development.

"This is a very big project for the city," Solley said. "Part of the due diligence that we owe the taxpayer is to go up there and see it for ourselves."

The group will leave on Thursday afternoon and return on Saturday. While in Ohio, they'll tour the Kalahari Resort there and meet with officials in Erie County, where the resort is located.

Mayor Tom Tomzak said he hopes to get a sense for how such a large resort has affected local government services.

Fredericksburg will be taking its police chief, fire chief, building official, planning director, public works director and several other department heads on the trip.

Tomzak said the project's scale puts it in a different category from just about any other building in the city.

"Fredericksburg doesn't even have an escalator," he said. "This is going to be a whole new dimension."

The trip comes days before the Jan. 8 City Council meeting, when the council members hope to formally receive the terms of the incentives deal that helped lure Kalahari to Fredericksburg over Williamsburg and Hanover County.

City Economic Development Director Kevin Gullette said the city and Kalahari are still finalizing the performance agreement for that deal. He said recent negotiations have focused on how Kalahari will be billed for the water and sewer services it uses.

Gullette said he's hopeful those negotiations could be wrapped up with a signed deal during the Ohio trip. If that happens, the city could hold a public hearing on the deal Jan. 15, and the council could vote on it Jan. 22.

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ABOUT KALAHARI'S SANDUSKY RESORT Kalahari built its second resort just outside the city of Sandusky, Ohio, in May 2005. The company's first resort opened in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., in December 2002.

The Sandusky property includes a 77,000-square-foot outdoor water park, a 95,000-square-foot convention center and an indoor water park that recently expanded to 173,000 square feet.

Kalahari claims that makes it the nations's largest indoor water park.

In Fredericksburg, Kalahari plans a 125,000-square-foot indoor water park, 170,000-square-foot outdoor water park and 100,000-square-foot convention center attached to a hotel that will have more than 900 rooms when completely built out.

By comparison, the Wal-Mart store in Central Park, including the garden center, is 225,600 square feet. The outdoor water park in Fredericksburg will be bigger than three football fields.