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Supervisors sign off on Tax Increment Financing district for proposed water park

TOBYHANNA TWP., Pa. - Officials in a Monroe County township continued to get their ducks in a row Monday in connection with Phase 1 of a proposed multi-million dollar water park and resort.

By a 5-0 vote, the Tobyhanna Township supervisors created a Tax Increment Financing district for the $350 million Kalahari Resorts project on 154 acres owned by Pocono Manor off Interstate 380. The Pocono Mountain School Board and the Monroe County commissioners have already signed off on the TIF ordinance.

By the same vote, the supervisors 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.

The supervisors are expected to vote on creating the NID in the coming months.

Both votes were taken after two brief public hearings. The only question from the public was asked by Pocono Pines resident Tom Keys, who wanted to know if property owners would have to make up the revenue if Kalahari defaulted on TIF payments.

Township solicitor Patrick Armstrong said taxpayers would not be liable, because the township does not have any tax agreement with the developer.

A 20-year, $26 million bond for off-site improvements for the Kalahari project will be issued by the Monroe County Industrial Development Authority, not the township, he added.

Property taxes generated by Phase 1 of the Kalahari project will be used to pay debt service on the bonds, Armstrong noted, and a special assessment on the property will require Pocono Manor to make up the difference if property tax revenues fall short.

Armstrong also reported that an inter-governmental agreement regarding the Kalahari sewer and water lines is in the works with Pocono Township and should be ready for a vote on June 10. The agreement will give Tobyhanna jurisdiction over the lines that extend into Pocono Township, Armstrong said.

A similar agreement with Coolbaugh Township will be needed because Kalahari gas lines will "tentacle" into that municipality, he noted.

Developers have said Kalahari Resorts could open as early as 2015.

The first phase of the development would include a 450-room hotel, a 100,0000-square-foot indoor water park, a two-acre outdoor water park, a convention center, an indoor theme park/arcade and retail space with room for two restaurants

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