Parks commissioners agree: Keep waterslides open
City setting up liaison meeting with Park District
The Pleasanton Parks and Recreation Commission was unanimous Monday night in requesting a liaison meeting with East Bay Regional Park District to convey its strong interest in keeping open the waterslides at Shadow Cliffs park. Members asked that the talks be held soon so perhaps the facility can be renovated and reopened in 2013.
"We already lost this summer. We don't want to lose next summer, too," Commissioner Kurt Kummer said.
Each commissioner noted what a boon the waterslides have been to Pleasanton and to their own families as a place for outdoor fun, away from televisions, computers and cell phones.
"You can't text on a waterslide," Commissioner Herb Ritter noted.
They agreed that every avenue of funding and partnerships should be explored before the amenity is abandoned.
The commission heard an update on plans for Shadow Cliffs from Jim O'Connor, assistant general manager of the Park District, which includes Shadow Cliffs, after residents expressed concern at a proposal to close the slides permanently.
Although the slides are not part of the long-range Land Use Plan passed by the Park District last May, they were expected to remain open for another 10 years or so.
The Park District's operations committee decided at its March 15 meeting to close the slides this summer after inspections showed a need for repairs but declined to close them permanently although that was the recommendation of administrators. Instead committee members directed staff to begin the process to find an operator who might renovate or rebuild the facility as well as run and maintain it.
O'Connor said estimates to renovate the waterslides are $6.3 million although it may prove to be lower. He said the evaluation will probably continue through the summer.
"We are currently working with engineering services staff," O'Connor said. "We still have a lot of hurdles."
For instance, an evaporating pond behind the waterslides facility would need to be replaced, he said. Also engineers must evaluate the stability of the hill where the four fiberglass flumes and landing pools along with their operating equipment are located.
The concession area is about 3.5 acres and includes a maintenance building, office, storage, separate men's and women's restrooms with dressing areas, and a picnic area.
The Rapids waterslides were built in 1980 by Glenn Kierstead who opened them in 1981 and continued to operate them on a one- to two-year agreement after his 20-year lease expired in 2006.
Kierstead told the commission that he estimated it would cost $270,000 to renovate the slides back to better-than-original condition.
"East Bay Regional Park District can expect a return on the investment and a profit," he said, explaining that last year parking for waterslides patrons raised $81,000 for the district.
The concessions have brought in $1.5 million over the years without a cost to the Park District or the city, he added.
Resident Chuck Bierdeman told the commission he created an online petition to save the waterslides that has received more than 250 signups, many with strong, passionate comments.
"The operation was originally brought to us by Glenn Kierstead," he said. "If he is still willing to run it, I think we should take advantage of that."
Several other residents told the commissioners how much the waterslides have meant to their families, both as a healthy outdoor activity and for teen employment.
"The waterslides provide good clean active fun in the local community," said Horatio Wolffe, 9, who used the recording secretary's microphone to speak since he couldn't see over the podium.
His father, Vaughn Wolffe, said Horatio went down the slides about 50 times one day.
"I don't think an interpretive center would have interested him as much," he said. "And I worry about kids in front of TVs and computers, and getting obese."
Another speaker said he would like to see Pleasanton take over running the waterslides from the Park District, noting that the city built a golf course.
"That was a huge outlay and I, as a resident, don't even use the golf course," he said.
Director of Community Services Susan Andrade-Wax told the commissioners that Pleasanton has a liaison meeting with the Park District every year or so on matters of mutual interest and this would qualify.
She said Tuesday morning that she hopes to schedule the meeting in four to six weeks, and the date will be posted on the city's community calendar at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us.