A $350 million water park complex in the Poconos slid closer to becoming a reality Wednesday night when Tobyhanna Township supervisors quickly passed a cooperative agreement with neighboring Coolbaugh Township.
The agreement, approved at a special meeting, is similar to another agreement Tobyhanna has signed with nearby Pocono Township, as part of a patchwork of agreements designed to clear the way for a gas line to the proposed Kalahari Resorts project, a hotel, convention center and water park near Interstate 380 and Route 940 in Pocono Manor property.
In addition to the gas line agreement with Coolbaugh, the supervisors approved a Neighborhood Improvement District, one of the last major items involving the resort before the supervisors.
Township solicitor Patrick Armstrong has said the final NID agreement will involve the Monroe County Industrial Development Authority, which will issue a 20-year, $26 million bond for off-site improvements, the property owners and other parties. As a result of that arrangement, township taxpayers would not be liable if the resort defaulted on its payments.
The supervisors have created an authority that will oversee improvements in the Neighborhood Improvement District that will include the Kalahari project.
That seven-member body will be called the Neighborhood Improvement District Municipal Association and include all five supervisors -- John Holahan III, Donald J. Moyer, Anne Lamberton, John Kerrick and Heidi Pickard -- as well as Michelle Bisbing, marketing director of Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corp., and Steve Pine, representing the property owner.
Property taxes generated during phase one of the projects will be used to pay debt service on the bonds, and a special assessment on the property will require Pocono Manor to make up the difference if property tax revenues fall short, the township’s attorney has said.
Groundbreaking for the project, which will be completed in three phases, has not been scheduled, said Steve Pine, who is involved in the development phase.
He said Kalahari, which operates resorts in Sandusky, Ohio and Wisconsin Dells, Wis., hopes to begin construction this year. Officials have said the project could generate hundreds of jobs.
In phase one, Kalahari plans to build 450 luxury guest rooms and suites, a 100,0000-square-foot indoor water park, a two-acre outdoor water park, a 65,000-square-foot convention center, a 30,000-square-foot indoor theme park/arcade and 6,000 square feet of retail space including two full-service restaurants.
The project is on 154 acres owned by Pocono Manor. Kalahari has said the project could open as early as 2015.