Feature Article - September 2006
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Refreshing Strategies

Cool Tips for Waterparks and Splash Play Areas

By Stacy St. Clair

While re-inventing the swim center, he purposefully avoided the mammoth rides found in many waterparks. Bridgeton already had a reciprocity agreement for its residents with Maryland Heights, a sister city with a massive facility.

To ensure the swim center would meet the community's needs, parks officials and the design team met with residents to discuss their programming wishes. They heard from all segments of the St. Louis suburb, including many seniors who urged them not to drop lane swimming in favor of child-oriented features. Their comments made keeping the competitive pool even more important.

"We had a lot of community input," Siemsglusz says. "We really listened to what they were asking for. We have quite an active seniors group and we wanted to make sure their interests were being met, too."

While the facility meets the needs of seniors, it also has become a magnet for families with small children. Its size and amenities make it perfect for parents who don't want to be swallowed by the massive waterparks. In addition to the slides and geysers, the $4.5 million project also has a current channel and a multi-jet splash play area.

"Our goal was to increase the recreation value, and we did that," Yarger says. "It truly has become a community pool. It is used by young and old alike."

Also important to the district's bean counters is the financial benefits that came with the renovation. The swim center's bottom line has improved since its May 2005 opening. Though park officials had to increase the number of on-duty guards, the new pool's modern systems have cut down on operational costs.

"It's a classic win-win," Yarger says.