Somerset Mayor JP Wiles was pleasantly surprised when he got the final financial report for the first season of operation at SomerSplash water park.

The 20-acre, North U.S. 27 park turned a net profit of $116,622.16 from June through August, its first three months of operation. The park opened after the Memorial Day holiday, a week later than expected, on June 8.

“We didn’t anticipate it making a profit at all this year, because the park is not completed,” Wiles said.

The park premiered with three main attractions — a kiddie play area, lazy river and several multi-colored slides — without the much anticipated wave pool and several other planned recreational activities. The $2.1 million wave pool, which is under construction, is expected to draw record crowds when it opens next season. Plans are in the works to add bumper boats and possibly putt-putt golf or batting cages in 2007.

Wiles is “tickled pink” with the first season of operation. According to financial records furnished by the city of Somerset, the facility generated $71,598.98 in June and almost doubled its revenue in July, pulling in $132,130.40. A cooler-than-normal August and abbreviated weekend hours resulted in a monthly loss of $87,107.22.

The Somerset mayor said the weather was “cold” three of the four weekends in August. The park cut back its summer schedule after students returned to fall classes, staying open only on weekends until the facility closed for the season on Labor Day. “August certainly was not as good as June or July,” he said.

The majority of revenue was made from the sale of tickets and summer passes. Main gate sales were $58,358.66 in June, $105,664.91 in July and $28,019.38 in August for a total of $192,042.95. The sale of summer passes brought in $137,396.28 the first two months. More people bought season passes in July than the opening month. Records show $79,479.95 was made from the sale of summer passes in July compared to $57,916.33 collected in June. A total of $125 was recorded in group admissions.

Wiles said the purchase price of season passes will be reviewed prior to next season, but his goal is to keep costs as low as possible.

Concessions brought in $93,554.14 for the season and the arcade added another $922.40 in income for July and August.

Wiles said revenue generated will be put back into park improvements. He would like to see walking, running and bicycle trails — as well as a fenced doggie park — developed on a five-acre site behind the park.

The total cost of operating the park for the three-month period — including salaries — was $316,472.84. The city paid $131,166.07 in salaries, which does not include benefits for full-time employment. Approximately $10,000 was paid in overtime expenses.

“We never figured on making a payment on the park out of revenue,” Wiles said.

Proceeds from the city’s commercial garbage service were used to finance the project. Wiles called it a win-win situation for the city and taxpayers. He said young people have a place to have summer fun and “taxpayers did not have to step up to the plate” to pay for the project.

“(The park) was built for our young people to have something to do when school is out,” Wiles said. “It was a good use of commercial garbage.”

Slightly more than 40,000 visitors from 34 states enjoyed SomerSplash this season. The average daily attendance was 581. The highest attendance was 1,223. The lowest attendance was 31 on a chilly, summer day.

The park was opened 69 days, closed two days and shut down early five days due to weather.

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