No more waterslides for Shadow Cliffs
Park District cannot find right vendor for popular summer facility
What a ride it has been but the popular waterslides opened in 1981 at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area will not be refurbished or rebuilt.
One vendor, Harvest Family Entertainment LLC of The Colony, Texas, made two proposals, said Jim O'Connor, assistant general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District, but they did not meet the terms set by the district.
"They wanted the district to fund 80%," O'Connor said.
That would have meant the district paying $2.4 million for its share to replace the current facility on 3.5 acres with a new slide complex to include inner-tube and body slides; a new Splash Harbor recreation area featuring soft play attractions, kiddy slides, a lily pad walk and aqua basketball; and a new children's multi-level water play structure, plus new food and beverage buildings and restrooms.
A second proposal from Harvest Family Entertainment was to develop a total of 8-11 acres, adding a 20,000-foot wave pool and 1,000-foot lazy river; a family adventure park with zip lines, obstacle courses and mazes; and a multi-purpose building. Estimated construction costs were $10 million to $12 million, which would have meant the Park District paying $8 million to $9.6 million.
"The staff recommendation was to reject the proposals," O'Connor said. "They didn't meet the terms, which was full funding and future operations and maintenance."
At the Park District operations committee meeting Feb. 21, its members voted 3-0 to support the staff recommendation.
A long-range land use plan for Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, approved by the Park District board of directors in May 2011, said the waterslides were expected to remain open for another 10 years. However, the facility was not reopened for the 2012 summer season after inspections last winter determined they needed extensive repairs.
The land use plan calls for removing the waterslide structures, then adding picnic sites with tables, benches, barbeques, shade shelter, wind screening and trees. It also calls for eventually adding a "splash pad" playground or other water-play area geared to families with young children.
"The committee is asking us to expedite the land use plan," O'Connor said, "but we currently have no funding to remove the existing waterslides and no funding to implement the plan."
Park District Board Member Ayn Wieskamp, who represents Pleasanton and Livermore, said removing the old slides is a priority.
"We will push to get that cleaned up, then probably reconfiguring the hill," she said, "then find the money to do the trails and what we can do for planting -- maybe find an organization or company to take it on."
Supporters of the waterslides attended previous Park District meetings to speak on their value during the hot summer months and as a place for teen employment, but O'Connor said no one from the public attended last Thursday's meeting.
The Rapids Waterslide was opened in 1981 by Glenn Kierstad under a 25-year contract. After its expiration, the operation continued with year-to-year agreements, which Kierstad has said prevented him from making improvements.
The facility covers about 3.5 acres with four waterslides, a maintenance building, office, storage, restrooms with dressing areas and lockers, and a picnic area.
Water Ventures, a water park developer based in Lake Forest, conducted a study of the facility last summer and concluded the "site is an excellent venue for such a water park," noting that in order to be successful, it should offer more opportunities for water play, such as wave pools, leisure pools and lazy rivers.
The Park District sent out a request for proposals with a deadline of Dec. 20, but only Harvest Family Entertainment responded.
"I think it will be missed," Board Member Wieskamp said. "This is a very hot area. And it was not just for young people but for families, for birthday parties. It served a very useful purpose, for the Tri-Valley especially."
"People liked the idea that it's a small facility," she added. "I think if someone was willing to spend money on it they could have made money on it."