The waterslides were opened in 1981 by Glenn Kierstad under a 25-year contract. After its expiration, the operation continued with year-to-year agreements.
Inspections this winter led the Park District to conclude that the waterslides had too many safety issues to open for the 2012 season; administrators recommended to the board at its March meeting that the slides be closed permanently in light of the fact that the district's long-term land use plan called for them to be phased out in another 10 years.
The Park District board instead instructed staff to reevaluate the site and put out bids for its renovation/rebuilding and operation. Engineers are currently reviewing the concession, which will take until the end of the summer, said Mimi Waluch, revenue and administration manager with the Park District.
She said the district has estimated it would cost $6,352,000 to replace the facility.
"The delay of the process is what bothers me," Pleasanton resident Vaughn Wolffe told the committee. "This is a theft from our community."
He noted that many teens have had their first jobs at the waterslides, plus it is a place kids can reach on their bikes.
"There are ways to get this done soon," he said.
Concessionaire Kierstad also addressed the committee.
"We're very proud of our safety record," he said. "For over 30 years, we've worked very hard to keep the facility safe."
He noted that he could not afford capital improvements while on a year-to-year lease, and he estimated it would cost $280,000 to bring the facility up to snuff.
The concession area is about 3.5 acres and includes the four waterslides, a maintenance building, office, storage, separate men's and women's restrooms with dressing areas and lockers, and a picnic area with a shade structure, picnic tables and barbeques. Structures also must be made ADA compliant.
Kierstad said that Rapids Waterslides brought $90,000 per season in concession and parking fees to the Park District.
"If this is going to be successful, the Park District is going to have to share some of the parking fees with the concessionaire," Kiersted said. The waterslides sold 28,000 tickets last season, he added.
"I was very proud when I built it in 1980," he added. "Many people and families have thanked me. I would like to see someone continue to operate the slides."
"For over 30 years it's been a fantastic resource and has not cost the community a dime," said resident Julie Testa.
"The Park District is disconnected to think it wouldn't be missed," she added. "There has been a tremendous dialog among people concerned about this loss, not just to Pleasanton but to the Tri-Valley."
Someone asked why annual inspections suddenly found it necessary to close the waterslides.
"Inspections were done when the water was running, and it was pretty and clean. This year we did a dry inspection," Waluch said. "I believe each year there was a list of things to fix on the four flumes. One has not been used for at least two seasons. You can pass portions and open the facility with conditions."
Park District Board Member Ayn Wieskamp, who represents Pleasanton, said although the Park District's land use plan included only 10 more years for the waterslides that she is open to having them operate for longer if that is what it takes to get the investment necessary to reopen the facility.
"I would like to add my encouragement to keep the operation open if at all possible," Councilman Jerry Thorne said. "My kids used it, and it would be very welcome for future generations."
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