Community Swimming Pools Receiving Makeovers

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 27, 2013 12:00 am  

‘A Wonderful Addition’

Cities that have water parks praise them.

“It’s been a wonderful addition to the city,” said Jimmy Bolt, city manager of Arkadelphia, which opened its approximately $3 million water park in 2002.

He said about half the people who come to the park come from outside of the city. The water park features water slides and pools for children.

The city of Alma opened what may have been the first municipal water park in the state in 2000, said Mayor John Ballentine.

The initial cost was $1 million, but slides and a zero-entry pool have been added over the years, bringing the total spent on the park to about $3 million, Ballentine said.

He said the park has been a hit for the city of about 5,000 people. It had 53,000 visitors last summer and generated about $350,000 in revenue. It cost about $250,000 to operate the park, allowing the profit to be reinvested in the center, he said.

Ballentine said that when the Fort Smith’s water center opens, attendance at Alma’s park might suffer. “Anything new will hurt you for a while,” he said.

But then he started pitching the advantages of the Alma water park: It has more slides than the Fort Smith one will have, and new features such as a climbing wall will be added this year.

Running a water park is just “like any other business,” Ballentine said. “You just try … and offer something that nobody else has.”



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