Frisco mulls Adventure Park’s future |

Frisco mulls Adventure Park’s future

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

After listening to Frisco town staff findings and recommendations regarding a fast-tracked implementation of plans for the Peninsula Recreation Area on Tuesday, council decided to take it slow. At the work session, town council discussed the future of the Frisco Adventure Park, which currently consists of the day lodge, tubing hill, terrain park and bike park. Ideas for expansion – including an ice rink, maintenance facility and nordic operations – were reviewed, as well as program offerings and how fast to move with final phasing of the park. Council also discussed the appropriate balance between tourist attraction and community amenity, and the implications of running the park as an enterprise.

Mayor Bill Pelham said the town needs to keep its original plan in view when discussing the park, and make sure the public gets what they want out of it. He said it was too soon to see if the town has achieved its original intentions.

The park opened to the public on Dec. 11. From its opening until Jan. 30, the total expenses for operation were $290,395. Lynn Zwaagstra, recreation director for the town of Frisco, said expenses included minor operational start-up costs, but no capital expenses. Total revenue for the first few months was $228,214.

Town staff recommended council take possible expansion slowly. Council member Larry Sawyer suggested the town wait a year and work on profitability with current park offerings before delving into anything else.

Town Manager Michael Penny told council that staff wanted to see the perimeters of what council expects from the park, since there are plenty of options for amenities.

“I don’t think we want to turn it into Disneyland,” he said.

Ideas include a 6,000-square-foot ice rink, a 1,400-square-foot Nordic center building, and a 2,400-square-foot maintenance facility. Other ideas researched by staff to balance low cost recovery items – like the skate park and disc golf course – include: a pavilion for private rentals, a rock/ice climbing wall, zip line, special event programming and charging admission fees for free amenities.

“We need to be thinking way out in the future about where we might be headed,” said councilmember Kent Willis.

Councilmember Kim Cancelosi said the town should focus on Nordic operations. She suggested expanding Nordic offerings and marketing it as a biathlon and Olympic training facility. She said the town would be able to draw substantial funds by attracting racers and tourists from all over the country.

“We have one of the most natural Nordic centers,” she said. “The market is in extreme sports.”

Council also discussed the benefits and downfalls of operating the Adventure Park as an enterprise fund. In an enterprise fund model, revenue is generated from admission fees and private rental fees. In a general fund model, revenues come from a combination of sales and property tax supplemented by user fees. Private use would be limited.

Right now, admission fees are being charged for the tubing hill and terrain park. Free features include the disc golf course, sledding hill and skateboard park.

Cancelosi said Frisco residents voted the Adventure Park in for their own use, and don’t want to be charged to use all the amenities. Willis agreed, and said holding occasional tournaments that charge admission – like disc golf – might be a way to make money from features that don’t generate revenue. Pelham said events sponsored by outside venues might be a good thing to pursue.

“We need to look again at the master plan and get back to original intentions,” Willis said.

Penny said the discussion of expenditure vs. return on the park is “an incredibly complex conversation.” He said not charging for some things puts more pressure on the others.

Penny said the park is a major investment he thinks will pay off. He said the town’s financial conservatism of the past seven years allowed them to invest in the park in a down economy, and continued conservatism will allow the town to maintain what it has.

“We’re in very good financial health right now,” he said.

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