The waterslides will continue to operate for now although the long-range plan is that they will be phased out, said district Park Planner Celia McCarthy. The current operator, Glenn Kierstead, has an agreement that will last until end of this season, and then the district will accept new proposals to run the waterslides.
"Of course the current operator will be welcome to participate in that," McCarthy said.
Since the original 1981 agreement expired several years ago, the waterslides have been operating on a year-to-year basis, she explained. Now the district wants a five-year agreement with an option for either the operator or the district to extend it.
The Shadow Cliffs review began after the California Splash Water Park project to expand the waterslides was dropped, in 2008. The review resulted in the plan finally approved Tuesday, which calls for installing picnic sites on the former California Splash site, along with measures to create a more natural landscape in the areas that were once quarries.
The plan is a long-term vision, McCarthy noted.
"What's good is once we have the plans in place we can go out and seek funding for a project," she said.
Some parts of the plan are less expensive to implement, she added, such as the shade pavilions near the beach. The educational elements have the backing of the Friends of Shadow Cliffs, which could also seek funding.
"It depends on who gets involved and how they advocate for those things," McCarthy said.
The Park District staff gathered questions and comments at four meetings earlier this year plus received several dozen in emails and letters, which, in some cases, resulted in revisions to the plan. Plans to phase out the waterslides drew negative feedback from some members of the community who pointed out that they supplied jobs for youths and fun recreation.
The district acknowledged that the waterslides provide an attractive activity and jobs for area youths and noted that it had supported the expansion of the waterslide concession during the 2002 Land Use Plan Amendment. But when plans were dropped for the California Splash project, district staff came to believe that the existing waterslides are not sustainable, in the long term.
Improvements in the beach area, to improve safety and crowd control, include re-designing and remodeling existing aquatics offices, storage areas, restrooms and changing rooms, and installing shelters to serve as shade or protection against the rain.