Hot Springs considers buying Evans Plunge - KOTA Territory News

Hot Springs considers buying Evans Plunge


The owners of Evans Plunge in Hot Springs have been trying to sell the attraction for the last few years.

There have been a few interested potential buyers, including non-profit groups and private third parties, and now the city itself is throwing its hat in the ring.

That was the subject of discussion at the most recent Hot Springs City Council meeting.
"There's a definite positive for the city as a whole to provide some additional revenue," said city manager Harley Lux.

He said here's still more to look at, but he sees at least a couple good reasons to take the plunge.
"There's anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 of additional revenue estimated that could go for other city purposes," he said.
Purposes like property tax relief. And that figure is after expenses.

The city is also looking at the water rights to the spring.
"They pre-date statehood," said Lux, "so it's important to the city as we look at future water and water use."
It's also important for local business.
"According to what we've seen, about 90 percent of [the revenue] is actually out-of-town resident usage," he said.
"The little shops, the bars, the second-hand stores, the gift shops, they're not going to get the tourist industry" if it closes down or the new owners close it to the public, said Melody Oleson, a Rapid City woman and regular vacationer to the Plunge.
Management says Evans Plunge attracted almost 80,000 visitors over this last summer. But at $10 to $12 a head just to get in, locals find themselves discouraged.
"I was used to the hot springs in Montana," said Jim Havard, who's now living at the Hot Springs VA, "and you could buy a whole pack of tickets for $20."
There's hope the city will reduce prices and keep the Plunge open year-round, but Council members are still in the middle of working through all the numbers.
"Right now we're looking at what is the best way to manage this," Lux said.

The Council hopes to make their decision on whether or not to buy the Plunge at the next meeting on Jan. 22, 12 days after a feasibility study will be done.

The city put a limit of $2.25 million on how much they'd be willing to spend -- including repairs -- well above the asking price of $1.6 million.

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