The number of visitors to Greenwood’s water park has increased each year since the facility opened in 2015, and now the city is looking at what improvements should be made to keep people coming.
The Freedom Springs Aquatic Center had about 100,000 visitors for its 2017 season, up from 90,000 in 2016 and 75,000 its first year in 2015.
“We’re very pleased with the incremental growth,” Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department Director Rob Taggart said. “We expect it is a good indicator of the success of the facility.”
The task now is to find ways to keep people coming back, which means making improvements and adding more amenities each off-season, he said.
Story continues below gallery
For next year, some of the proposed improvements include a 17-foot drop slide next to the lap pool and five, 20-foot diameter umbrellas throughout the water park, Taggart said.
These improvements, which will be the first major upgrades to Freedom Springs since its opening, will cost about $145,000. Where the funding will come from hasn’t been determined yet, but options include revenue from the 2017 season and money left over from the loans used to pay for the construction of the $7.2 million water park, Taggart said.
Freedom Springs had a record high revenue of $944,000 from admissions, concessions, programs and rentals this summer, a number that is up from $730,000 in 2015, the first year the water park was open. And, with expenses at $738,000, that gives the parks department more than $200,000 to re-invest in the water park and other projects, he said.
The Family Aquatic Center in Franklin brought in $301,000 in revenue this summer, which is the city pool’s highest total as well. Expenses for the season won’t be calculated until later this year, but are expected to be below the revenue, Franklin Parks and Recreation Department Director Chip Orner said.
Continuing to evaluate the water park and add further amenities is essential to maintaining its success and getting visitors to return year after year, Taggart said.
“You have to keep the place relevant and modern,” he said.
The Greenwood parks department has $10,000 budgeted for an aquatics study next year, which will survey the community to determine what types of amenities they would like to see added to Freedom Springs, Taggart said.
The results of that study will help create a schedule of further improvements to the water park in 2019 and beyond, he said.
Other potential improvements include adding about 65 spaces to the 430-space parking lot, but officials don’t know yet how to pay for that project, he said. Other improvements made to Freedom Springs in the past two years have included a $35,000 shelter building.
“The lot has gotten very full in the past, especially on 90-degree days,” Taggart said. “It’s something we need to address and make sure we are accommodating all of the visitors.”
Franklin hasn’t decided on any projects for 2018, but will be evaluating whether any improvements to its pools are needed in the next couple of months, Orner said.
Both Taggart and Orner said their pool’s seasons started off well, with sunny and hot weather in June, but August had unseasonably low temperatures, which led to lower attendance at the end of the season.
“June was the biggest its ever been,” Orner said. “But we haven’t had something that’s been good the entire season.”
The number of visitors at two community pools and water parks has risen the past three years. Here’s a look at the numbers:
Freedom Springs Aquatic Center, Greenwood
Family Aquatic Center, Franklin
SOURCE: Franklin and Greenwood Parks and Recreation Departments.