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Council OK trial period for beer, wine at Sun Splash

By Staff | Feb 5, 2019

Sun Splash Family Waterpark attendees who might want to enjoy a brew or two along with the Lazy River will be able to do so, at least for next season.

Cape Coral City Council voted 7-1 to allow the city-owned and operated facility to serve beer, wine and wine smoothies on a trial basis of one year, with the right to end it early or keep it on a permanent basis as the board sees fit.

Over the last three years, Sun Splash has required more than $2 million in subsidies, and officials have been exploring ways to make the 27-year-old park more self-sustaining.

Public comment on the measure was mostly negative.

Resident Lynn Rosco said there was no way to control who is drinking (especially if they are underaged) and that admission prices need to be raised if the park needs more money.

Also at issue was that the controversial issue appeared on the consent agenda, meaning no Council discussion unless a board member “pulled” the proposal for debate.

Councilmember Rick Williams was inclined to vote against it, since the trial basis component had been proposed at a workshop meeting last week but the ordinance, as presented Monday, did not have that limitation.

The test period was then included, garnering support from all council members except for Jessica Cosden, who, as a mother of two young children, said she couldn’t get behind it.

Another issue on the consent agenda, regarding the acquisition of equipment for existing parks, included a new slide for Sun Splash at a cost of $500,000, which made the decision to allow alcohol at the park a little dicier.

“I have trouble justifying adding something when we had just talked about subsidies,” Williams said. “I’m having some grief as to how we spend money.”

City Manager John Szerlag told the council that parks need to add new attractions every so often to freshen things up. Sun Splash added a Tot Spot last year and has added other things in recent years that cost more than the proposed new slide, which will be installed next year.

The new slide is expected to last at least 20 years, which made Councilmember John Gunter lend support although he also wanted to see a feasibility study.

The slide was part of a $5,757,000 resolution that included items for all the other parks, including $1 million in shade enclosures, questioned by Mayor Joe Coviello, and Wi-fi capability, which Councilmember David Stokes questioned.

“Why are we spending $200,000 on wi-fi? Isn’t the idea for parks is to get out in nature?” Stokes asked to applause from residents there to protest land use changes for the Four Corners intersection.

The measure passed 5-3, with council members Marilyn Stout, John Carioscia, and Jennifer Nelson voting against it.

In other business the city council also voted 7-0 to name Phillips and Jordan Inc. as its secondary Emergency Disaster Assistance and Debris Removal Service and CrowderGulf Joint Venture as its tertiary. Others were named on an as-needed basis.

Szerlag and Coviello also recognized Mike Foscher, senior budget analyst, and Britt Martin, financial projects manager, for obtaining their Certified Finance Officer designations.