Families looking to swim or lounge in the lazy river this summer only needed to look in the parking lot to see how packed Greenwood’s water park was that day.
If the lot was full and cars had started parking along the entry road into the pool and in the grass around the parking lot, they knew it was a busy day.
During the busiest times at Freedom Springs Aquatic Center in Greenwood last summer, drivers left cars parked out along the street and in the grass. That is an issue the city wants to address so that people are not deterred from coming to the water park due to not having anywhere to park, Rob Taggart, parks and recreation director, said.
Since the water park first opened at Freedom Park in 2015, the number of visitors has grown every year, increasing from 75,000 in 2015 to 100,000 in 2017. During peak hours and on hot days, visitors to the water park don’t have enough places to leave their vehicles, often resorting to parking in the grass or in the entrance driveway to the water park, Taggart said.
The parking lot, which has room for 418 cars, was designed to be expanded, with areas of grass set aside on the north and south sides of the lot to make room for more spaces to be added, he said.
The Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department plans to spend $90,000 to add 65 parking spots at the Freedom Springs Aquatic Center, which would raise the total number of spots to 483.
The parking lot still will have room for additional expansion and could be enlarged to hold as many as 550 vehicles, Taggart said. He plans to continue keeping an eye on the parking situation to see if any future expansions are needed.
The parks department will need approval from the Greenwood City Council to pay for the work with money from a fund that is set aside for parks projects, Taggart said. The council unanimously approved allowing the parks department to spend the money this month, but will need a second approval.
Work to prepare the site for paving will be done this fall, with the additional parking spaces being added in the spring, he said.
Other improvements planned at the water park before the next season are the addition of a 17-foot drop slide next to the lap pool and five, 20-foot diameter umbrellas throughout the water park. Those improvements will cost about $150,000 and be funded by a combination of the profits the pool brought in the past few years as well as $110,000 remaining from the money the city borrowed to initially construct the water park, Taggart said.
The number of visitors at Freedom Springs Aquatic Center has risen the past three years. Here’s a look at the numbers: