Rogers hedges on approval for 'Slide the City' event near Pinnacle Promenade

Event-goers slide down a 1,000-foot slip-and-slide event put on by Slide the City in Salt Lake City in July. The company is seeking permission to hold a similar event in Rogers.
Event-goers slide down a 1,000-foot slip-and-slide event put on by Slide the City in Salt Lake City in July. The company is seeking permission to hold a similar event in Rogers.

ROGERS -- Fayetteville declined a Utah company's request to close Dickson Street for a one-day water slide later this summer, and Rogers officials expressed concern Tuesday about the company's proposal to close part of a major street near Pinnacle Hills Promenade for the "Slide the City" event in August.

The for-profit Utah company charges $15 to $60 for tickets to play on the temporary 1,000-foot water slide, with the cost varying depending on the number of slides and whether tickets are purchased in advance or the day of the event.

A company representative told members of the Roger Transportation Committee on Tuesday the company would partner with an area nonprofit group paid for providing volunteers but she couldn't give further information.

Committee members told her they needed to know which nonprofit group would benefit and how much money the group could expect.

"I have some personal concerns," said Mark Kruger, a committee member, before the committee tabled the proposal. "I would be uncomfortable approving this if we don't know who you are partnering with and what the nonprofit is going to receive."

The company, known as Slide the City, proposes closing a portion of Bellview Road near Pinnacle Hills Promenade from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 25. Nichelle Jensen, Slide the City event director, said the event has been held in Salt Lake City, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Boise, Idaho, and events are planned for Scottsdale, Ariz., and Phoenix this year.

Jensen told committee members she would gather information on the nonprofit group and present it to the committee next month. She said the amount a group receives varies.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Jensen said nonprofit agencies typically receive $60 for every volunteer who works an event, and it takes about 100 to 200 volunteers to hold one.

The event has sold out at its previous locations, Jensen said. It could draw 6,000 people if it sells out in Rogers, she said.

"We are looking at Northwest Arkansas because of the university here," Jensen said, referring to the University of Arkansas. "There also is a family demographic with Wal-Mart here."

Fayetteville's Planning Department had concerns similar to Rogers' officials when the event was proposed, said Sharon Waters, parking and telecommunications manager. City officials denied a permit for the event in recent months because the company isn't a nonprofit group, Waters said.

"They wanted to do it on Dickson Street," Waters said. "They are a for-profit organization and to close off a main street is not something that we want to do for a for-profit organization."

The city also told Slide the City representatives the company would have to address any health concerns from the Arkansas Department of Health about the water slide

Waters said company officials said they would consider having a nonprofit organization apply for the permit, but that never happened.

Slide the City decided Rogers was a better fit, Jensen said. Some of Fayetteville's policies made holding the event there difficult, she said, not specifying which policies.

The Slide the City proposal calls for closing one side of Bellview Road between Perry Road and Crest Lane, officials with the Rogers Police Department said at Tuesday's meeting.

Chris Griffin, Rogers staff attorney, said officials want to be cautious before closing roads.

"You are closing down a city road paid for either by bonds or taxes," Griffin said. "If you are closing down a city road for a private business you have to look harder at that. When you close for a nonprofit, there is a benefit for the public."

There would be some public benefit because of the nonprofit partnership, Jensen said. She named the Fayetteville organization Soldier On Service Dogs as the most likely area partner for the event.

Angie Pratt, Soldier On Service Dogs director, said the nonprofit group is new to Fayetteville. It raises and trains service dogs for soldiers who have post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, she said. The dogs are given to veterans in Northwest Arkansas without cost.

"All of our training and dogs are free," Pratt said. "It generally costs (the organization) about $35,000 to $40,000 per dog to train and foster the dogs for two years."

Money raised from the Slide the City event would help the organization cover those costs, Pratt said.

"There are 70,000 veterans in Northwest Arkansas," Pratt said. "14,000 are diagnosed with [post-traumatic stress disorder] and [traumatic brain injury] and we believe there are about 1,000 veterans who could use these dogs."

Gary Townzen, Rogers Transportation Committee member, said he would like to know more about how much the Slide the City makes in comparison to the nonprofit groups.

"Ten-thousand dollars is a lot unless the company makes $100,000," Townzen said.

Loy Bailey , Benton County Health Department administrator, said he wasn't aware of the event. He said it's possible the Health Department would need to approve the slide.

If the event is held in Rogers, the company would bring in the slide, Jensen said.

"There could be some requirements as to some type of disinfection," Bailey said. "The concern would be that the water isn't being treated."

Approval for closing the street could go back before the Transportation Committee as early as March 10, Griffin said. He said the City Council doesn't need to approve the street closing.

Teresa Moss can be reached by email at [email protected] or by Twitter @NWATeresaM.

NW News on 02/26/2015