If you plan to visit Freedom Springs Greenwood Aquatics Park this summer, expect faster moving lines, new places to sit in the shade and more options for buying passes.
Last year, lines of people at the main entrance would often reach into the parking lot, sand from a nearby play pit would get in the pool, making it tough to clean, and shelter house rentals for birthdays and other parties simply weren’t booked as often as the parks department had hoped.
The new aquatic center still shattered expectations when it made about $260,000 more than the cost to operate the facility in its first year. But changes still were needed, and when the pool opens on Saturday, visitors will notice them, parks director Rob Taggart said.
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One of the biggest focuses was on alleviating the long lines visitors faced. This summer, the parks department added a second gate at the facility in addition to the main entrance. And an employee with a tablet will come through the line and take credit card payments for day passes, which will also move the line quicker, Taggart said.
The Greenwood parks department started prepping the aquatic center on April 12, power washing the pools before refilling each and treating the water, Taggart said. During the fall and winter, the additional gate was added, and the sand pit was replaced with a fourth shelter house. The removal of the sand pit and construction of the new shelter cost about $25,000, Taggart said.
This weekend is the traditional weekend that community pools open for the summer. Greenwood, Edinburgh and Perry Pool at Perry Park will open for the summer starting on Saturday.
The Franklin Family Aquatic Center opened for the first time May 21 because officials decided to take advantage of good weather and to offer more days due to longer school years with balanced calendars, parks director Chip Orner said. Since opening on May 21, Franklin’s aquatic park has had about 500 visitors, Orner said.
Most of the work done at Franklin was focused on small touch-ups to the park’s appearance, Orner said. For example, pool visitors will notice seven palm trees placed around the aquatic center, each costing about $1,200, and new, large umbrellas that ran about $1,700 a piece.
Last year, local pools were hampered with a summer of rain, parks officials said. At Freedom Springs, multiple days were rained out last summer, and city officials are optimistic that this summer could do even better if the weather cooperates.
But despite a successful first summer at Greenwood’s new aquatic center and a lot of lessons learned, such as deciding to keep the pool open later every day this year, the parks department is approaching year two with a level of unknown, Taggart said. Greenwood ended a three-year contract with a pool engineering firm hired to help open and run the new facility. Counsilman-Hunsaker was hired in January 2014 to help prepare, plan and operate the facility. But after last summer, the parks department decided to operate and manage the facility on its own.
“This year is our first start-up after shutting the park down, and it’s our first we are managing on our own,” Taggart said. “The management aspect of the facility is still new.”
By doing the planning and preparing, the parks department was able to implement its own policies and procedures, such as reformatting the schedule to maintain regular hours all the way through Labor Day weekend, as well as new additions to the facility, without having to first run it by the firm. And it’s made things much easier, Taggart said.
“We were really able to identify our weaknesses last year,” Taggart said. “We had a lot of leading by Counsilman-Hunsaker, but we learned a ton from our first year, really got comfortable and understood basic operations. We’ve really hit the ground running.”
One of the most glaring problems the parks department identified was the lack of shelter house rentals, Taggart said.
But last year, a shelter house rental also required a certain amount of food that had to be bought from the concessions stand. The parks department got feedback that visitors didn’t like being forced into that deal, Taggart said. Now, rental rates will remain the same as last year, $100 for a half day and $200 for a full day, but will also come with a 50 percent discount off admission and concessions, Taggart said.
The city also added a fourth shelter house, replacing what had been a small sand pit. Cleaning the pool was a hassle due to the sand that was tracked in from kids going back and forth, Taggart said. And with the changes in shelter house rentals, the parks department decided to add a fourth shelter in anticipation that they’ll be used more often, Taggart said.
A new cabana, or seating area under shade, and more inner tubes for the lazy river were also added, Taggart said. And a new pass will allow visitors to get 10 visits for $50, for the people who don’t come enough for a season pass, but plan to visit more than once.
Making sure every bit of feedback is heard and utilized to better the aquatic center is the overall goal, Taggart said.
“We started our preparation efforts for the 2016 season as soon as the 2015 season ended. We’re going to make sure we’re providing better customer service. I think people will instantly notice,” Taggart said. “We always want to do better. We just want to improve everywhere.”
Get ready for local pools to open this weekend. Here’s a guide for everything you need to know about pool hours and rates.
Franklin Family Aquatic Center
Location: 396 Branigin Blvd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week
- Adult: $5
- Child/Senior: $4
- Military: $4
Season Passes: $60
Freedom Springs Greenwood Aquatics Park
Location: Freedom Park, 850 Stop 18 Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, open until 10 p.m. on Thursday nights; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
- Resident adult: $8
- Resident child/senior: $6
- Military: $6
- Non-resident adult: $10
- Non-resident child/senior: $8
- Resident: $65
Edinburgh Aquatic Center
Location: 220 Harrell Drive
Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. seven days a week
- Resident: $2
- Non-resident: $4
- Resident: $30
- Non-resident: $60
Perry Park Aquatics Center
Location: Perry Park, 451 E. Stop 11 Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, open until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday; noon until 6 p.m. Sunday
- Adult: $5
- Child/Senior: $4
- Adult: $6
- Child/Senior: $5