Swimmers gush about new venue
Tonganoxie water park officially open for business
Tonganoxie residents can finally get their swimming suits out of the closet because the Tonganoxie Water Park is now open.
It's been about 11 months since the old Chief Tonganoxie Pool had closed down and pool patrons have waited so long to take a dip into the new pool, they were counting down the seconds until the 1 p.m. pool opening on Tuesday.
John Leah and Jeff Sims were the first ones through the gate and into the water. Their method of entry? Cannonball.
"We are real excited to use the pool," Leah said.
Eleven months and nearly $3 million later, the city of Tonganoxie has a state-of-the-art water park to call its own.
The city got its first glance at the facility during the grand opening celebration June 14 during Tonganoxie Days, but the pool wasn't quite finished. Since Tonganoxie Days, Louie Drackert, superintendent with Prosser Wilbert Construction Inc., and his crew have been working during every available moment to finish the pool by the July 1 deadline.
On Monday, some of the finishing touches, such as laying down sod and some signage had to be installed before Tuesday. Even Darren Shupe, the park's manager, was working at the new facility until midnight making last-minute preparations.
Ronda Andrews said all of the extra time was worth the wait.
"I am in awe over this," Andrews said. "It's more family-oriented and kid-friendly than the one in the past."
The weather was the biggest hurdle the construction crews had to face this year. During the winter the mixture of snow and ice had construction crews only working a few hours a week. Drackert said in February his crew was only able to work four out of 21 working days.
It didn't end during the spring. Often times the rain kept crews from being able to pour concrete for the new facility.
"If the weather had cooperated, we would have gotten the pool done by Memorial Day," Drackert said. "The weather just beat us up this year."
But even with the delays he was happy with the end result.
"I don't think you will find many towns with a population of 4,000 with pools like this," he said.
He also credited the efforts and hard work from Continental Pools Inc. and even city crews to help expedite the construction.
Mike Yanez, city administrator, was already at the pool looking over the facility and watching the line of patrons start to form around the outside fence.
He said this project was the best he has overseen and thinks it is something the whole community can be proud of. He hopes that anybody who was unsure about it will come look at the new water park to put their doubts to rest.
"This thing sets the standard for public pools anywhere in the region," Yanez said. "It's really awesome."
Although he wasn't in his swimming trunks on the opening day, Yanez said he might just take a ride on the new slide later this week.
Shupe said there would still be a few things to watch out for while the pool is starting out. He said patrons would need to stay off of the sod for the first two weeks to allow for the roots to settle. He also asked that patrons bring their own locks to use the free lockers so the pool area would not become cluttered.
Shupe also mentioned that there are still slots open for swimming lessons and any interested students should come to the water park to sign up. For more information, contact the water park at (913) 845-9455.
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