Winona Lake still owes $5.8 million on Miller Sunset Pavilion

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WINONA LAKE — The town of Winona Lake still owes $5.8 million on the Miller Sunset Pavilion, and is looking for ways to improve revenues.

That and other figures were released Monday amid concerns over the skate rink’s finances and the lack of a long term plan 17 months after it opened.

In 2023, revenue totaled $551,007 with expenses totaled $523,673. That includes brick sales and donations and operating revenue from 2022.

For 2024, revenues total $61,147, while expenses are $91,870.

Clerk-Treasurer Heather James provided the update to council.

The town has been using money from it’s TIF district revenues to cover the annual mortgage that tops more than $585,000.

The town has two Tax Increment Finance districts — one that covers the Village At Winona and a much larger one that is residential.

Neither James nor Town Attorney Adam Turner could say which TIF district the town is tapping into to pay for the pavilion.

Meanwhile, the town is looking at options.

Council members Ashley McGinnis and Austin Reynolds said they are looking into how the town could better operate the facility in order to increase revenues.

Town Council President Jim Lancaster said the town could also look at some kind of capital projects to raise money.

The sale of souvenir bricks is also continuing.

Lancaster is one part of K&J Operations, which has been hired by the town to oversee the pavilion for $152,800 per year.

Some council members expressed a desire to look at other options for operating the pavilion, in part because of the conflict Lancaster has with the circumstances.

Lancaster said they could also do more brick sales, or establish a capital campaign to raise money.

The Town Council on Tuesday also clarified the policy for food trucks at the pavilion to ensure continuity for food trucks set up elsewhere in the town.

Council also approved a plan by McGinnis that will allow vendors at the farmers market to opt for a half season arrangement. Vendors can now participate for 13 of the 26 Saturdays  for $350. An entire season is $500.