Feature Article - January 2006
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Simple Splashes

Updating your aquatic facility and programming without going overboard

By Kelli Anderson

Made in the shade

Substantive change like adding play features, while certain to draw in the crowds, isn't the only way to improve an aquatic facility. Shade features and landscaping, however, while probably not making the community survey's gee-whiz top-ten list, will rank high on the list of any good designer's makeover recipe.

Facility facelifts, in addition to new attractions, are also about look and feel. A fresh coat of paint, a new color scheme, changing out fixtures or partitions are all part of keeping a facility from looking its age or feeling outdated.

In a former age of sun-worship, shade features were few and far between. In today's more carcinogenic-conscious culture, shade is in high demand, and older facilities adding these amenities are sure to gain a whole new following.

"For most older facilities, some of the highest impact changes you can make is adding shade structures," McElyea says. With the many striking designs and materials in the industry, shade features also add high-impact color and visual pop.

"Our sun umbrellas are huge," Eaker-Kelly says. "They fit three families each and are beautiful and colorful."

Green with envy

In addition to shade features, the Summit Community Pool paid attention to landscaping. The entrance and pool area gained tropical plantings and grasses to soften the space and transform the facility into a lush, exotic atmosphere.

"It is absolutely beautiful," Eaker-Kelly says. "The upgraded entrance is so inviting—it looks so tropical."

Even the addition of potted plants will go a long way to softening the look of older, traditional concrete pool areas. Add islands. Landscape indoors and out. Anywhere the touch of green, the cool appeal of shade or the pop of colorful plantings can be added will give an instant makeover to existing aquatic spaces.

Sometimes it's fencing that needs to be addressed.

"We are looking at landscaping options," says Jeff Stewart, parks and recreation director for the city of Gardner, Kan. "We will replace all the fencing and do something more appealing—currently it's just tall chain-link." Although the aquatic facility in Gardner is not planning to complete their renovation until 2007, the importance of landscaping elements is all part of the plan.