Arnolds Park Amusement Park building new dormitory for workers

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa (KTIV) - International and seasonal workers at Arnolds Park, Iowa will have a new place to call home.

A new dorm is being built at the corner of Zephyr Drive and Okoboji Grove Road, across the street from the park. Officials say the proximity of the dormitory will alleviate most transportation issues for workers. The dorm will house 115 workers.

For more than 15 years Arnolds Park Amusement Park has had visa students as employees. Students from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Turkey have participated in the J1 Visa program, otherwise referred to as the work and travel program. It is a U.S. Department of State program for exchange students.

In its initial year, there were 12 students participating in the program. In more recent years, officials say the Lakes have welcomed more than 115 students in the program.

The H2B visa program, the other program the park uses, works with the Department of Labor. It allows the students to work on a temporary basis in the states. This program allows the students a longer amount of time to be in the United States, allowing them to be able to work both with the opening of the park, and also the closing of the park at the end of the summer season.

“This will be a huge benefit when staffing the park for the season. The facility will be a big upgrade from what has been available near the park. Affordable housing is a big hurdle to get over when trying to get workers to come to the area and work, be it Americans or visa workers,” stated park CEO Jon Pausley in a press release. “The facility is designed to feel like a natural extension of Arnolds Park and will be a much safer situation having all of the workers this close to the park.”

Sioux Falls construction company Eagle Construction was awarded the contract for the project.

“We plan to have the units ready when workers start to arrive next summer,” said Eagle Construction owner, Steve Boote.