With four seasons under its belt, and record breaking attendance anticipated this summer, a major expansion is being proposed for Splash in the Boro, Statesboro’s five-acre water park located in the Mill Creek recreational facility.
The expansion plan features a new tot slide and spray ground in the existing island area of the leisure pool. The river area will be expanded on the west side of the park to add a zero beach entry and sunning area. Also, a new four-lane mat racer slide is proposed which will provide an extreme thrill ride for the teen market.
The expansion will cost approximately $4 million and would be finished in time for the 2009 season
Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC) member Mark Hynko agrees that the time is right to expand the water park.
“We feel that the timing is perfect to add to the park and feel very blessed that we have an asset in Splash in the Boro”, Hynko said. “Splash has generated great revenues, and will therefore be able to sustain any debt that will be associated with the additions to the park.”
Hynko said the expansion proposed is the result of a long-term study that was conducted a year ago.
“In 2006, we entered into an agreement with two firms that specialize in assessing current operations and needs for aquatic centers,” he said. “In November of 2006, we received their recommendations. This strategic enterprise plan basically came down to four options for our existing Splash in the Boro park.”
“We had several meetings with the department heads, RAC members and county commissioners to review the options in the plan. Now we have chosen a blend of the options that we feel gives the park the most additional features at the most reasonable cost.”
Hynko said it is now up to the Board of County Commissioners to review the proposal and set a course for the park’s future.
“While this option is not set in stone, we have proposed this to the county commissioners for their review,” he said. “I want residents to understand that these additions will not burden the tax payers of Bulloch County. Not only will it add additional features, it will help ensure that we are the only significant water park in our area so we can continue to draw from surrounding counties and throughout the state.”
Chad Avret oversees the operation of the Splash in the Boro. Avret is an operations division manager for the Statesboro Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department. Avret said the expansion will address two needs.
“Studies show that water parks have to update their facilities on a regular basis to remain a viable attraction,” Avret said. “We knew that when we built the park. Secondly, Splash was built to accommodate 65,000 to 70,000 annual entrants. We are averaging 100,000 or more per year. That is becoming a problem – a good problem, but a problem none-the-less.”
Avret said the expansion will put the park in a position to host the average number of patrons that it is receiving in a more comfortable manner.
“We are proposing that the entry way be expanded, because it has become very difficult to get that number of people in and out through the entry way,” he said. “Also, we are proposing another concession stand at the opposite end of the park where the new zero beach entry will be.”
Avret said he expects the additions to be ready by the 2009 season.
“Our average daily attendance has increased each year, and last year we set another record,” Avret said. “The park had revenues of $1.2 million, with a net operating income of $281,263. The facility was constructed with money from SPLOST collections. We are very proud that it can support expansion without any additional taxpayer money.”
Hynko pointed out that the expansion will not only keep the park viable well into the future, but would also deter potential competition from other counties.
“If we go through with our expansion, it would cost someone a tremendous amount of money to match what we have here in Statesboro,” he said. “I feel the need to also mention that while we are blessed to have our current water park, along with all of our recreational facilities here in Bulloch County, our strongest asset that we have is our devoted staff that serves our community at the Statesboro Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department.”