With the blessing of local voters in hand, the Hot Springs City Council moved Monday to buy Evans Plunge for nearly $1.5 million.
The council unanimously passed a resolution at a special meeting Monday to buy the warm water pool, land, water rights and buildings for a total of $1.495 million with a closing date of July 1.
The citizens of Hot Springs approved an initiated measure on March 26 by only 11 votes, authorizing the city to borrow up to $1.9 million for the purchase and renovation of Evans Plunge, the oldest operating tourist attraction in the Black Hills.
Early on, some people worried the Plunge could be purchased by a private entity and closed to the public, though those early speculations did not materialize and would be put to rest if the city buys it.
Included in the agreement is a clause that the city will bid for needed roof repairs for the facility, with costs not to exceed $148,000. Prior to the public meeting Monday, an executive session was held to consider what to do with gift shop inventory.
According to City Administrator Harley Lux, the current owners of the Plunge will retain gift shop items and a joint buyer/seller inventory will be conducted prior to closing. At that point, the city will purchase any remaining inventory at its invoice cost.
Lux said that the finer points of the purchase have been agreed upon by the current owners.
“I’m going to call Bill (Kuhl, a current owner) and have him come down and sign the agreement,” Lux said.
Joe Lux, a former mayor, leads a partnership that had expressed an interest in purchasing the attraction as well.
“That’s interesting,” he said when he learned of the purchase price. “That is certainly much more to what we considered to be a reasonable amount to offer.”
Joe Lux said that he would have to discuss with his partners if they wished to continue their pursuit of offering to buy Evans Plunge, which they have said they would keep open as a tourist attraction.