State approves Derby’s dinosaur park

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DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) – A dinosaur park in the City of Derby is one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Friday, city officials received a letter from the Kansas Department of Commerce approving their Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) Bond Project Plan. The state also agreed to pay $18.9 million of the project’s $160 million total price tag.

“We got great news here in Derby today from the Kansas Secretary of Commerce. He affirmed what we all know, that Derby is a great place for families,” said Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton.

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STAR Bond Project Plan, City of Derby

The city had been working on the STAR Bond Project Plan for nearly two years. In late July, the city council adopted an ordinance approving the STAR Bond Project and then sent it to the state for further approval.

The project consists of a unique dinosaur exhibition featuring full-sized animatronic dinosaurs, a fossil dig site, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a tri-level ropes course under a dome, open-air amphitheater and fitness trail.

“It’s healthy, family entertainment, learning about dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures, the way the world used to be so to speak and fun!” Sexton said.

In addition to the dinosaur park, the STAR Bond District would include retail shops, restaurants and hotels. According to a feasibility study submitted by the city, the project is projected to bring approximately 1.2 million new visitors to Derby annually and generate more than $85 million in annual retail sales.

“The community benefits by selling that hotel room, that restaurant meal, that tank of gas and the retail shopping,” Sexton said.

However, the project is not a done deal. The city still needs to sell the STAR bonds to fund the district. Sexton said it could take several months to market and sell the bonds, but she said if the city can do it successfully there will be a major pay off.

“The private developers bring money to the table. The city contributes and the state contributes and again it is for the long-term economic improvement of the state and of the community,” Sexton said.

If everything goes as planned, the city would like to have the dinosaur park open to the public by 2018.