Despite delays, Parks and Recreation Department still planning Memorial Day opening for Cape water park

Thursday, April 8, 2010
Dan Muser, director of the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department, shows the lap pool that is being constructed at the new water park behind the Osage Community Centre. (Fred Lynch)

Since Penzel Construction Co. won the contract to build Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center last July, there have been 72 days where weather interrupted construction.

But Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department director Dan Muser remains confident that he will deliver the $8.7 million water park to the public in time for a Memorial Day opening.

"That's still the plan," Muser said as he toured the site of the showpiece project for the city's $20 million park improvements program approved by voters in April 2008. "I can't say any more than that."

At the construction site, concrete pillars to hold two winding water slides are in place and workers on Wednesday were bolting pieces of the slides together. The concessions and bathhouse building shells are completed, but no fixtures have been installed. Concrete finishing work on the lazy river feature -- 700 feet of moving water in an 11-foot-wide trench -- is underway to prepare it for a robin's egg blue coat of paint.

Joe Polys, superintendent for subcontractor Westport Pools, said that rain and winter weather have been the only serious issues that have arisen during construction. Because of sloping terrain beside the Osage Community Centre, where the aquatic center is being built, moving equipment around the site can be difficult on good weather days that follow rain.

The lazy river will be an 11-foot-wide, 700-foot-long trench filled with moving water.

"We have had several trucks get stuck in the mud," Polys said.

Construction of the water park completes a project that has been on the city's wish list for more than a decade. Amenities at the center will include:

* Four long water slides ranging from 64 feet to 177 feet long.

* A six-lane, 25-yard lap and leisure pool adjacent to a vortex pool.

* A shallow water play area that will have a gradually sloping entrance.

* A splash pad that will feature water shooting up from the ground as well as rings and a tall green cartoon snake head that will spray water from above.

* 23 large "funbrellas" for shade and a picnic pavilion.

While the weather was uncooperative earlier this year, the last two weeks have had excellent construction conditions, Muser said.

"We have done as much as we did in 1 1/2 to two months in the winter," he said.

The completion of the water park will mean most of the projects included in the parks program are finished. The one big project that will take until the end of the year is the new community center adjacent to the Shawnee Park Sports Complex.

Accomplishing what was promised -- at the prices originally estimated -- has been, at times, a difficult task, Muser said. Part of that difficulty was saying no to people who tried to promote ideas for items not originally included in the project list. "All you can do is what the people voted to do," he said. "You can't be tempted to get off course of what you said you would do."

And getting the costs right, he said, is another set of headaches. The community center at Shawnee was delayed by bids that were in excess of the available cash and which had flaws in the bid specifications that required a second round of bids. The project at the Jaycees Municipal Golf Course needed to be pared back to fit the budget.

"It is scary when you put this stuff out," Muser said. "It is very easy to have costs exceed what you thought it was going to be."

The water slides are expected to be one of the most popular attractions at the aquatic center.

The question everyone is asking, said Muser, a 25-year veteran of the parks department including 21 years as director, is who will be the first to go down the big, 25-foot-tall water slide that will be 177 feet long. Some have asked whether he will be the first, Muser said.

"I am not opposed to going first," he said. "But that is the least of my worries."


Water park prices

The Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center will open later this year with water slides, splash pads and a lazy river play area. The Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department has set the following admission prices for using the center:

Adults: $6

Children: $5

Family season pass: $200

Child's season pass: $100

Senior Citizen season pass: $100

SOURCE: Cape Girardeau Parks

and Recreation Department

Pertinent address:

1625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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