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Health Dept. could pull plug on Snack Shack fun center over lack of municipal water

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Snack Shack Family Fun Center, which opened in December at 20768 Route 12F, could be shut down if an ongoing investigation by the state Department of Health concludes it needs municipal water to stay open.

Last week state employees told owner Floyd W. Roberts — who uses a well to supply water for the center’s bathroom and giant outdoor inflatables — that he might need to install municipal water because more than 25 people visit the business a day. But alternative solutions might be available for the business to meet sanitary guidelines, such as treating the well water, the DOH said Tuesday.

It was the first time Mr. Roberts was questioned about the building, which has no previous violations.

More than 70 children routinely visit on Saturdays and Sundays this summer, Mr. Roberts said. The fun center features an indoor arcade and giant outdoor inflatables including a large splash area, minipool and slip-and-slide. A drip hose with a filter, which is linked to the well system, provides water pressure needed for the inflatables. The business also buys water from the Dexter Public Works Department for the inflatables.

Bottled water is sold inside the building, and well water is used only in the bathroom.

DOH officials took numerous photos of the outdoor inflatables, the well and the septic tank, said Mr. Roberts, who also owns Palomino Motors in Watertown and Evans Mills.

“They said they come by here quite a bit and noticed more than 25 people come here a day, so I have to install municipal water,” he said. “I told them there is no municipal water to install here, but they’re going to shut me down. I think they feel they need to do something because it’s a high traffic spot.”

The DOH is now reviewing services provided by the Snack Shack to ensure it complies with the state Sanitary Code, said Jeffrey Hammond, state Health Department spokesman. The business will be required to follow state guidelines due to the number of patrons who visit, he said, but there could be multiple solutions to water quality concerns. Mr. Roberts may be able to treat the well water, for instance, to become compliant.

“The department will review the case to determine what the next steps or options for the business will be,” Mr. Hammond said.

Mr. Roberts initially considered linking the building to a water line that runs parallel to County Route 202, about 250 feet away, but concluded it would be too costly. Town of Watertown officials informed him the water line is within a separate water district, which would require special permission to join. Mr. Roberts would also need to get the project approved by building owner Thomas G. Puccia, who owns surrounding land the waterline would pass through.

“I told Tom I could want to tie into it if I get more inflatable units that need water,” he said. “But right now it isn’t cost effective, and I would need at least another year to save up. And it would take me a minimum of 10 months just to apply to hook up the water.”

Mr. Roberts, who has contacted north country legislators about the situation, fears he could soon lose the business.

“Kids love this inflatable stuff, and no children have gotten injured,” he said. “I’m trying to save the place because the people want it here.”

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