Field Station: Dinosaurs, a New Jersey-based dinosaur-themed park and museum, is in the beginning stages of what will be a long road toward development in Derby. But a similar park is also being planned in Virginia, according to Guy Gsell, executive producer of the company.
It is not immediately clear where the park would be located in Virginia or when it would be opening. Gsell said he couldn’t comment on the park because lease agreements are still being worked on.
“Nothing is definite,” he said in an email.
The Derby park has a long road before touching shovel to dirt. After hearing an initial proposal from Gsell last month, Derby’s City Council voted to schedule a public hearing for Tuesday Aug. 25 to get input on Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) bonds that would be issued to help pay for the development.
After the hearing, districts would be set up and a snapshot would be taken of the sales tax revenue brought in from businesses within the districts. If revenues increase in ensuing months, the extra revenue would go toward Field Station: Dinosaurs.
The proposed districts – north and south – run up Rock Road from about Meadowlark past Patriot Avenue. The Derby Marketplace, as well as undeveloped commercial property, would be included.
If successful, the attraction, which would be located near the northwest corner of Rock Road and Patriot Avenue, would encourage business development in the districts because of the increased traffic it would bring.
“Basically, you have the attraction component that attracts people and tourists into the city and this area,” said Joe Norton, Derby’s legal representative in the process. “And then you have a proposed commercial component of revenue generators that will sell things to generate the sales tax.”
If new businesses come in, sales tax revenue would increase dramatically, allowing more funds to go toward the attraction’s cost.
STAR bonds are unique to Kansas, but some states have similar programs. The funding source has been used in the past for projects including the Kansas Speedway NASCAR facility in Kansas City.
“They’re not an easy process to get done and get sold and marketed, so there haven’t been that many,” Norton said.
The Derby and Virginia parks would be additions to the park already established in Secaucus, N.J. But the New Jersey park is scheduled to close when its lease ends in September, making room for a high school the county will build there.
Gsell said he is looking for a new home for the park and, according to a New Jersey news outlet, that new home could be the New Jersey city of West Milford.
It is not clear if the Virginia development would use a STAR bond-like process. In 2014, Field Station: Dinosaurs attempted to open a park in Iowa using a similar process, but failed to qualify for funding for the project.