15 Feb Water slides key feature for new $9.2M Nelson Park aquatics facility
Hearld Review — DECATUR — The Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners chose not to play it safe with its $9.2 million water park slated to open at Nelson Park in 2018.
The board picked a preliminary design at Wednesday’s meeting that included a water slide package with features not previously seen outside of Europe.
I'’d just as soon be first than be like everyone else.
Both options considered by the board included a 25-yard lap pool, either six or eight lanes; a 7,800 square foot leisure pool with play structure, vortex, bench seating and lily pad walk; and a 1,600 square foot sprayground/wading pool.
They were detailed during an hour-long presentation by Architectural Expressions Managing Senior Partner Lawrence Livergood and Counsilman-Hunsaker President Scott Hester.
The differences were in the waterslide packages. The board chose Option B, which included a freestyle stand-up slide, infinity jump slide, multi-racer slide, free fall speed slide and a high fly slide. Option B only needs one 42-foot tower with several levels.
Hester said there isn’t a water park in the country with the slides in Option B, though they’ve been in Europe for years and there are two parks in the U.S. constructing similar features — neither in Illinois.
“We’ve been working with an industry provider who is bringing in some technology to North America from Europe,” Hester said. “The manufacturer has been producing these types of rides for 30 years.
“This gives you a chance to be more of a trendsetter in the municipal environment. This gives you a chance to have a destination facility that people will drive from 30, 40 and even 50 miles away to experience.”
Park Board President Bob Brilley II said having a destination facility has been the district’s goal with this project from the beginning.
“This option would bring people to Decatur,” Brilley said. “This pool is for the people of Decatur, but it’s also for the economy of Decatur and the economy of the park district.”
Decatur Park District Chief Financial Officer Rodney Buhr said Option B would give the district a better chance to bring in money.
“The revenue generation for day-to-day operations is significantly better in Plan B,” Buhr said.
Jenae Petty of Decatur said she was impressed by the preliminary design.
“This looks awesome,” Petty said when shown the Option B rendering. “This will definitely draw a lot of people — it has a whole lot more than Fairview. This is something that parents are going to be willing to take their kids to, and it will keep kids off the street and give them something to do.”
Brian Yowell of Decatur has two daughters, 12 and 2, who will be excited about the water park.
“You better take us,” 12-year-old Brookelynn said to her dad.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time for them to bring water slides back to Decatur,” Yowell said.
Miranda Jenkins of Decatur said she liked the multi-racer slide, on which three people can race, with the time recorded and posted on a screen at the end of the slide.
“That will be fun for a group of kids to go on together,” Jenkins said.