a crowd makes its way up the stairs to water slides at kenwood cove on wednesday, aug. 4, 2010. (photo by jeff cooper/ salina journal) | buy journal photos


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hot spot


by chris hunter salina journal

while mechanical problems caused temporary shutdowns of some of the features at kenwood cove aquatic park, attendance has remained high as temperatures have soared.

“we have exceeded our goal,” said steve snyder, director of salina’s parks and recreation department. “and we still have most of august left.”

snyder said the park, which closes aug. 22, was expected to bring in just more than 91,000 people for the first year, but the park averaged about 1,633 a day between june 5 and july 31 as attendance hit 92,285.

“so far, from what we have seen from the first three days of august, attendance may fall in line with the july participation,” snyder said.

“we could see a total of 110,000 people this year because we will only be open half a month,” snyder said.

problems shut down features

mechanical problems have caused the shutdown of features throughout the park.

currently, a motor problem is affecting the orange family slide, which is not attached to a slide tower.

snyder said the part was supposed to be in, but when it arrived, a seal was missing.

“it is a very popular feature,” snyder said. “we don’t know if it is manufacturer defect or what. it should be fixed soon.”

other issues have arisen throughout the summer. one problem forced a temporary closure of the slides on the slide tower on opening day; another caused the waves to be turned off in the wave pool.

water also leaked through seals in the river rapid slide. the slide was temporarily patched in june; it is to be fixed after the pool closes. snyder said another leak has since been located in the slide.

“we will be waiting until the park closes to fix (the second seal), too,” snyder said. “it won’t create a problem.”

snyder also said a filter in the pool’s lap pool and diving well has not been working, so the water has been cloudy. that problem recently was fixed.

“we have hit a few bumps” with equipment, snyder said. “the pool contractors have been out here working and getting things fixed. they’ve done a good job of fixing the issues.”

attendance remains high

despite the problems, attendance has remained high.

in june, attendance topped 2,000 on 10 different days, while attendance hit 2,000 on six dates in july. the highest attendance occurred on june 19, when 2,679 people attended the park.

“we expected some days with over 2,000 people, but not this many,” snyder said. “the only thing that has dropped attendance has been weather.”

the park has not closed for a full day because of rain, but it has closed for parts of days, such as july 4. those days have significantly dropped the average. if you eliminate the partial days, the park would be averaging nearly 1,800 a day in attendance.

swimming classes and water aerobics have been popular features. chris curtis, recreation superintendent, said attendance for all of the water programs has exceeded more than 1,000.

“we may have to look at adding more water-walking classes next year,” curtis said.

heat wave helps

snyder said heat has been a factor in attendance.

“compared to the season we had last year, which was cooler and wetter in july and august, this kind of weather has been great for aquatic parks,” snyder said. “it has been conducive for large crowds. we have seen that in the numbers.”

while heat may have played a part in the attendance, snyder said lifeguards have had to be reminded to keep hydrated.

“it has been an issue because they are out there for an hour and 20 minutes before a break and it can sneak up on them,” snyder said. “their job is not physically demanding, but they are standing and walking around. they need to take precautionary steps to make sure they are hydrated and it can be easy for them not to do so.”

snyder said the park staff has been faced with other health and safety issues.

“we have reported everything from stubbed toes to bug bites like a wasp sting to more serious issues like someone bumping their heads,” snyder said. “we don’t know if they will have longterm effects on the spine or neck, but staff has taken the issues seriously whether it has been a minor issue or we have had to strap someone to the board and called ems.”

attendance could drop

snyder said he can’t predict how attendance will be next year, but said it could be lower.

“we have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of people attending,” snyder said. “we anticipated a big interest in the first couple weeks because it was heavily promoted and was new, but it has not dropped off too much. we are happy with the numbers.”

nreporter chris hunter can be reached at 822-1422 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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