~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The pursuit for an elaborate $240,000-plus slide for the new Woodland Park Aquatic Center may have finally hit pay dirt.
Although it’s not necessarily a done deal, the financial path appears to be set for the slide to become part of the nearly $15 million aquatic center facility, when it opens for business next October.
That’s according to social media posts, compiled by the Woodland Aquatic Project group, informing residents and potential donors that the gap has been closed to only a little more than $30,000. In the last few weeks, the amount of donations has been unprecedented for any recreational venture ever attempted in Woodland Park. “Because of your outpouring of support, and though we did not meet our $240,000 goal, we were close enough that the city of Woodland Park has agreed to order the parts and start construction on the slide this summer,” said the group in an announcement on Facebook on March 30. “The city would like to continue to ask for donations.”
Altogether, private funding for the slide has exceeded $200,000, with the vast amount of money pouring in during the last few weeks.
In fact, Woodland Park city officials say that if donations exceed the estimated funding goal, then the extra money could be used for other center amenities. These include such extra perks as a hot tub, the warm water therapy project, swimming classes for adults and children, lifeguard training, scuba training, water polo, water volleyball and more.
In addition, residents who wish to contribute $100 or more can have their name displayed on a donation wall.
Some concerns have been raised over too many classes dominating the pool activity. But City Manager David Buttery made the assurance, in a Facebook post last week, that this wouldn’t occur with plenty of free swimming time expected for the forthcoming aquatic center for a variety of age groups.
With the latest fund-raising push, it appears that the slide will become a definite fixture, when the center opens for business.
In a recent council meeting, Buttery indicated that the private fund-raising and donations collectively had reached such a successful level that he planned to inform the project contractor to proceed with ordering the parts and pieces for the slide.
He stopped short, though, of saying that the slide would get assembled in time for the grand opening. However, Councilman Paul Saunier made a huge pitch for getting this done in time for the opening of the aquatic facility. “Do not let the pieces sit there,” said Saunier.
He didn’t get any arguments from his fellow council peers, who favor signaling the green light for the slide construction.
The new facility, located next to the Woodland Park High School, appears to be meeting project deadlines and is proceeding on schedule. Despite concerns about the total price tag, the city has received a good credit rating from the Standard & Poor’s Financial Services due to its fiscal policies, the city’s limited liability and the strength of the local economy.
But any big delays in the opening of the facility may put more pressure on the city in addressing next year’s budget. The city has operated with a low reserve fund for 2017 and couldn’t give out very much in community investment dollars.
An official update on the aquatic center will occur on April 6 during the next Woodland Park Council meeting.