By John Sharp
Progress is apparent on opening more of the attractions at The Bay Water Park, 7101 Longview Rd.
When The Bay opened late this year due to a combination of lifeguard shortages by Midwest Pool Management (MPM), the private company that operates the facility under contract with the City Parks & Recreation Department, and mechanical issues, many of the facility’s most popular attractions remained closed.
These included the lazy river, swirl bowl and water slides, plus the adjacent free spray ground which needed mechanical repairs.
The spray ground has been repaired and is now fully functioning along with the recreational and kiddie pools.
Midwest Pool Management also has increased the starting salary for lifeguards from $11.75 an hour to $14.00 an hour and still pays for lifeguard certification, according to Brad Clay, deputy director of Parks & Recreation. Other facility staff now have a $12.50 an hour starting salary.
Clay stressed in an interview that his department wants the lazy river, swirl bowl and water slides open on Saturdays and Sundays this season as soon as enough lifeguards are available to assure their safe operation. He expressed optimism that the significant increase in salary for lifeguards soon should allow that.
The water park and spray ground are open from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily through August 21. The department’s website shows admission to the water park is free for children no more than one year old with their families, and admission is only $4 for all others when only the pools are open. When the lazy river, swirl bowl and water slides also are open, admission increases to $6 for children under four feet tall, $7 for seniors 60 years old and above and $8 for other adults.
Persons are welcome to bring in coolers with food and non-alcoholic beverages, Clay said.
Next season, Clay said, his goal is to fill and test the department’s aquatic facilities in April so they can all open on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. He said he also wants all The Bay’s attractions, including the Flowrider surfing simulator which is closed this season, to be open seven days a week.
Thanks go to community leaders such as Beth Boerger, a member of the Hickman Mills Board of Education, for advocating for the opening of all The Bay’s attractions, and for the strong support of the community’s requests by both 6th District city council members, the members of the Board of Parks & Recreation Commissioners and Parks & Recreation staff.