Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Next week: Get ready to talk about Kalahari again

Set your DVRs for the public access station on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The city is taking the rare step of televising its pre-meeting work session that night, since it will be about Kalahari–the waterpark, not the desert, in case you’ve been asleep for the past two months.

The meeting is to include reports from city staff about the due diligence and study Fredericksburg has done on the project. James Prost of Basile, Baumann, Prost and Associates will also "provide a preliminary report on his review of the economic impact and project feasibility," according to the city.

All of this is pre-game for the March 11 public hearing on the Kalahari performance agreement–a more formalized version of the "letter of intent" the council approved last month.

It appears Prost will also be making a presentation at the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting, so if you want to weigh in, you might sign up for the public comment period directly following that presentation.

Business reporter Bill Freehling attended an Economic Development Authority meeting last night that focused on the two incentives packages the city is considering right now–the big one for Kalahari and a smaller one for Capital Ale House. 

He filed this report last night about the Capital Ale House deal, but look for more on that in tomorrow’s Business section. He also sent me this dispatch about the part of the meeting that focused on Kalahari:

On Thursday night, Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority briefly discussed the incentives package that the city is negotiating with Kalahari Resorts.

City Attorney Kathleen Dooley told the EDA that City Council approved a letter of intent Jan. 22. The city is now hammering out a legal and operational agreement with the Wisconsin-based operator of resort hotels and waterparks. City Council has a work session scheduled Tuesday to discuss it.

"Time is of the essence," Dooley said, noting that Kalahari is already investing in initial plans for the project at Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia.

The EDA would have little role in the incentives package. It would essentially be a pass-through agent–the city would write the EDA a quarterly check, and the EDA would pass that on to Kalahari during the 20-year performance agreement.

EDA member Richard Pullen said he had a problem with such a long agreement, one that would outlast the tenure of most EDA members. Member Dana Herlong pointed out that it was a huge incentives package.

Both wondered whether the EDA could hold the funds for long enough to generate interest on the money before passing it on to Kalahari. That money could then be used for future EDA grants.

But Dooley said that’s not how the agreement would be set up. She said the money that the EDA would be receiving briefly would belong to Kalahari under the terms of the agreement. She noted that the EDA and city were on the same side.

Newly appointed EDA member Joe Wilson pointed out that neighboring localities would be happy to welcome Kalahari if the deal fell through in the city. And he pointed out that Kalahari would only get the rebates if it was successful in Fredericksburg.


  • URkiddingright

    He has a very keen sense of business and served on the council, so he knows the issues and the politics that are most important to the city. Ms. Herlong didn’t need to critque the incentives, as the EDA has nothing to do with city incentives on Kalahari. The EDA money marked for grants wasn’t the cities money , it came from Medicorp adjusting some bonds and they gave the refund money to the EDA to further stimulate NEW business. The incentive for Kalahari are refunds of new taxes, not actual cash grants!

  • mydar

    “Time is of the essence,” Dooley said, noting that Kalahari is ALREADY investing in initial plans for the project at Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia.’ (indeed there exists a opening date of December of ’09). Yet the adroit Mr Wilson threatens, “neighboring localities would be happy to welcome Kalahari if the deal fell through in the city.” Nonsense. “Celebrate” is a super premium site, Kalahari knows it, they are not going to walk away from it. Due diligence is what, “is of essence.”

  • 1joewilson

    Kalihari wants easy access from I-95. If Mydar thinks the only location that offers this access in this area of Virginia is the Celebrate Virginia site the he/she is wrong.

  • mydar

    The Celebrate VA site: is 42 miles from Washington DC/Metro; 52 miles from Richmond; Adjacent to 2 of the fastest growing counties in the country; Far enough north from Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens; an existing tourism campus; That is why Kalahari has been talking about locating here since 2004 (according to the Washington Business Journal.)