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Published: Wednesday, 8/13/2003

Sandusky OKs tax abatement for water park


SANDUSKY - A water park could be flowing into the Cedar Point area as soon as next year.

Sandusky city commissioners approved a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement for a proposed $20 million indoor water park near Cedar Point on Monday.

The project is in the planning stages pending approval of the tax abatement by the Erie County Commission on Aug. 21.

The 35,000-square-foot park would be near the Radisson Harbour Inn and plans are for it to be available only to hotel patrons. It would have water slides, a spa, arcades, and a snack bar, and would include renovating the hotel, said Robert Decker, corporate vice president of designing and planning for Cedar Fair, L.P., the company that owns the proposed water park site.

As part of the tax abatement agreement, Cedar Fair will donate $70,000 a year for 10 years to the Sandusky City Schools. Normally the schools receive about 70 percent of the property taxes.

As those taxes increase, federal funding to schools decreases, so the abatement is a way to keep the schools funded while encouraging business, said Mike Will, a city economic development specialist.

The water park would add about $2.9 million in property taxes to the area, less than 10 percent of which would go to the city if the abatement was not in effect, Mr. Will said.

Janice Witherow, Cedar Point spokesman, said the project is part of Cedar Fair's plan to make the area into a resort destination where visitors would stay multiple days.

“It makes sense to incorporate that into the Cedar Point resort,” Ms. Witherow said.

She was optimistic about the project's tax abatement being approved.

The county commissioners are waiting for documents explaining the project, but some officials are receptive to the idea.

Mike Bixler, Erie County administrator, said the water park would be helpful because it would create jobs during the off-season. “It would do a lot for the community because we are so tourism-oriented,” he said.

Construction on the park could start next month and be finished before the end of 2004.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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