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Ottertail, county approve tax abatements for Thumper Pond

Local governments are helping Thumper Pond Resort get back on its feet after a catastrophic roof collapse last year. Leaders from both Otter Tail County and the city of Ottertail, where the popular resort is located, have recently shown their sup...

Thumper Pond Lodge
Damage can be seen at the Thumper Pond Lodge Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Ottertail, Minn, after the roof over the waterpark collapsed around midnight. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Local governments are helping Thumper Pond Resort get back on its feet after a catastrophic roof collapse last year.

Leaders from both Otter Tail County and the city of Ottertail, where the popular resort is located, have recently shown their support for reconstruction efforts, agreeing to temporary reductions in Thumper Pond's city and county taxes.

Thumper Pond suffered major damage in April of 2015 when a 120-foot section of the roof over its waterpark area unexpectedly collapsed. No one was injured in the collapse, and details from an investigation into its cause have not been released, pending litigation.

Representatives of the resort announced in January their plans for a major reconstruction of the waterpark area, wanting to move forward while awaiting the outcome of a possible insurance settlement. They later reached out to Ottertail and Otter Tail County for financial assistance with their redevelopment effort, submitting tax abatement applications to both local governments.

In August, Ottertail city councilors agreed to abate, or reduce, up to $106,500 of the resort's city tax load. And this Tuesday, Otter Tail County Commissioners followed suit, agreeing to a county tax abatement of up to $150,000, but estimated to be closer to $64,000, over the next 10 years (the county has agreed to abate its share of any increase in Thumper Pond's taxes over the resort's adjusted 2016 market value).

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In both cases, the abatement assistance would be cancelled if, at any time, the resort reaches an insurance settlement that is equal to or greater than its property damage and loss of business.

Public hearings regarding the tax abatements were held in both Ottertail and the county seat of Fergus Falls, with no comments received from the general public at either one.

At the hearing for the county abatement, held last week, commissioners said the abatement was in the public interest, as the Thumper Pond waterpark brings tourism dollars into the local economy.

"I'm in favor of this abatement; I think it's needed," said Commissioner Doug Huebsch, of Perham. He added that the resort is, "great for Otter Tail County to have... It's great for tourism and it's great for the economy."

Noting that no one spoke against the abatement at last week's hearing, Commissioner Wayne Johnson, of Pelican Rapids, was also in favor: "I wish all my decisions were this easy, every day," he said.

Damage can be seen at the Thumper Pond Lodge Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Ottertail, Minn, after the roof over the waterpark collapsed around midnight.Dave Wallis / The Forum
Damage can be seen at the Thumper Pond Lodge Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Ottertail, Minn, after the roof over the waterpark collapsed around midnight. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Related Topics: OTTERTAILFERGUS FALLS
A writer, editor and mom of four (two kids, two dogs), Marie's been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. She started at the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 2017 after working just down the road at the Perham Focus for several years. Before that, she was at the Herald-Review in Grand Rapids, Minn.
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