Grand Island, NE -
As swimmers dive in for the first time this year, city officials are working on keeping the aquatics side of their parks in top shape.
Kids like siblings Keeran and Sophie Woode couldn’t wait to hit the water in Lincoln Park Pool on Saturday.
“We just found out it was opening and we had our season passes and we just decided to use them,” says Keeran.
“It gets a little cold when you first get in, but when you get used to it, it gets warmer and it’s really fun to be in,” says Sophie.
While Lincoln Pool and the Island Oasis Water Park were busy on opening day, Oasis Facility Manager Diane Miller says weather made it a slower start than some years.
“It’s okay that we’re slow today, it’s a good, good training day,” says Miller. “I’d like to be a little busier financially, but it is what it is.”
Todd McCoy, Grand Island Parks and Recreation Director, says weather kept 2013 attendance down at Island Oasis, but Lincoln Pool posted big numbers in its first season since being rebuilt.
“Lincoln pool was very well received last summer, we had about 16,000 swimmers last summer, which is twice as many swimmers as we had in previous summers,” says McCoy.
Officials are looking for a good year as they push for more Island Oasis maintenance funding. McCoy says the water park is in working order, but they have painting and upgrade projects they’d like to do.
“It’s an awesome, awesome facility, it’s 20 years old, just kind of to freshen it up a little bit is the goal, but we’re open this summer, and we’re looking forward to a great, busy summer,” says McCoy.
Grant funding recently fell through, but McCoy says they’re checking other avenues to keep Grand Island aquatics competitive with other area pools.
“We’re still looking forward to seeking some funding to do some, just some cosmetic upgrades – painting, remodeling the bathrooms, just some touch ups to a facility that’s 20 years old,” he says. “You have to pay maybe it’s $25,000 or $50,000 to have that in your community, that’s a pretty big asset to have and well worth it.”
McCoy says that most swimming pools here in Nebraska and across the country are not profit-generators. But he says Lincoln Pool did make money last year, and Island Oasis was close to breaking even, though the average attendance of 60,000 was down to about 47,000 thanks to weather.