With the addition of the wave pool and other aspects of the $5.7 million expansion now underway at Splash in the Boro water park, Statesboro's largest generator of part-time summer jobs for teenagers will hire even more young people.
In recent years, Splash alone has employed more than 200 summer workers in the range from 16 years old through college-age and older, and the expansion is boosting that number to nearly 300. Overall, Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks & Recreation will have somewhere around 450 summer employees, also including those hired for its sports and after-school programs and the maintenance of other parks, said Mike Rollins, the department's director.
Splash-specific job announcements were posted in February for the record-breaking season Rollins and other officials hope to see with the expanded park.
"Actually we're in the process of doing those now, so those positions are open and available, and once we identify our potential employees and get them interviewed, then we'll begin the process of training and getting them prepared to carry out their duties," Rollins said Thursday.
Jobs are listed at www.splashintheboro.com. Click on "Work with us" on the top bar. An application is available online, as is a consent form for a driver history and background check. Forms can be emailed or faxed to listed supervisors, the site states, or can be turned in at Splash in the Boro at 1388 Highway 24 East or at the Recreation Department headquarters in the Honey Bowen Building on Fair Road at 1 Max Lockwood Drive.
The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners' human resources office also accepts Splash applications and has information available, Rollins said.
Kinds of jobs
The Splash site lists jobs for lifeguards, slide attendants, swim instructors, swim team coaches and a water aerobics instructor; jobs in guest services such as selling tickets and working in the gift shop; jobs in concessions as cooks, servers and cashiers; and jobs for bathroom and parks attendants.
Training required obviously varies from job to job. Lifeguard and other swimming-related positions require certification, but Splash offers lifeguard certification courses throughout the spring. Info on these is also on the website.
Ranges of the number of jobs listed with the job descriptions add up to more than 300. But people who have previously worked at Splash fill some of the positions. The number of part-time summer employees actually needed also depends on the applicants' hours of availability, with college students often working around class schedules, Rollins said.
But Splash has hired 200 to 220 summer employees in past years, and the wave pool and other aspects of the expansion should require "somewhere in the range of about 60 new part-time employees," Rollins said.
Although summer is the peak season, Splash also keeps some part-time and full-time employees year-round, and Parks & Recreation, overall, often has about 200 part-time staff at other times of the year.
Weather is always a concern for both outdoor construction and water parks, and the expansion project's completion date is not a certainty at this point. But May 20, one week before Memorial Day weekend, is Splash's target date for opening.
"Right now we're still on schedule with everything and construction is going well," Rollins said. "It's moving pretty much as planned, and as long as we can keep this good weather, we should be fine."
The actual construction needs to be completed in advance of the opening date, and factors such as equipment delivery, landscaping and training will need to fall into place quickly.
"You're talking about almost a $6 million project, and we're dependent on equipment suppliers and contractors and a number of other things," he said. "So I'm sure we'll have to do some squeezing and fitting into whatever schedule they have as we get closer."
Concrete for the wave pool was being poured this week, and the pumps won't be installed until a little later, Rollins said. The two new buildings are in various stages of construction.
More than waves
Besides the 19,500-square-foot wave pool that is meant to draw new visitors from far away and fresh interest from families close by, the expansion is adding a second pavilion.
Accommodating about 100 people, cabana areas at both pavilions will be rentable for parties and sizeable gatherings, and Splash also has a separate area for birthday parties, Rollins noted.
"We can host a number of birthday parties at any given time," he said.
As part of the project, the front entrance area has been redesigned and the entry road rerouted to provide more room for people on foot entering and leaving the park. A concessions and restroom area is being added near the wave pool.
A new winter bathhouse building will provide more space for staff training and events such as indoor birthday parties.
Markey and Associates, the Kennesaw-based aquatics design firm that designed previous Splash projects, engineered this largest expansion yet. Lavender & Associates, based in Statesboro, won the overall $5,683,270 general contract. Swimpro Aquatics was subcontracted to install the pools.
A replacement of the dome that goes over the aquatics pools in winter, keeping swimming programs available year-round, was cut from the current project to keep it in budget. But Rollins said the department plans to have the dome replaced this fall, covering the cost with the expanded Splash's expected gain in revenue.
The county commissioners gave the department approval to borrow $7.4 million, at an interest rate of 2.1 percent, to fund the current expansion and refinance the remainder of a loan from the previous expansion completed in 2009. But Splash pays its own operating costs, and is expected to pay off the loan.
For this purpose, admission fees are being increased some. The projected increases were reported after last year's proposal to the commissioners, and Rollins said the new fees will be posted soon.
"But it's still a very, very affordable facility," he said. "Especially for the amenities that are offered to our guests, it will be a bargain in the water park industry, I guarantee you."
With 2017 already set to be a season of change, Steve Brown, the recreation department's aquatics division manager, left at the end of 2016 for a management job with a commercial water park in Warner Robins. He had managed Splash's operations since it opened in 2004.
So, the Statesboro-Bulloch Parks & Recreation leadership has been screening applications for a new aquatics division manager. Rollins plans to begin the interview process next week with the hope of having someone in place by the end of April.
Rollins said he always takes a positive view of staffing changes.
"You have to look at them in a positive light, because you're going to have them no matter what, and hopefully if you have good people, there are going to be other people that want them," he said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.