By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
MT. VERNON — Parks and Recreation Department Facilities Director George Bryant told members of the Mt. Vernon City Council on Friday he has a few surprises in store for the new Aquatic Zoo aquatic center.
Although Bryant didn't reveal all of his secrets during a tour of the facility on Friday, he indicated a change order in the construction of the big bucket that will tip water into one of the pools will have a special design.
"It will not only tip over on its right side, but it will tip backwards. For that reason, I have a special design planned. It will be one of the surprises at the facility. It's going to be good," Bryant promised.
Bryant added, "i have surprises for the community that's going to be very unique."
Mayor Mary Jane Chesley was beside herself during the tour, repeating several times, "This is exciting." The mayor added, "This makes me want to be a little kid again. But I'm going to enjoy it as a big kid."
Bryant said the opening of the aquatic center is still on schedule for July 4, despite poor winter weather conditions.
"We're still looking at a July 4 date. Shores Builders, our contractor, is trying to make up for some of the lost days because of the weather," Bryant said. "It's too early to say that we'll be open at a later date, so were sticking with the July 4 date. Good weather recently has allowed workers to make up some time."
John Dzarnowski of FGM guided the tour for the council and members of the media. He said the entryway will include turnstiles and the spray park can be visualized from the entrance.
"Most of the past pool codes required that swimmers go through the lockers and/or take a shower before entry, but with this facility, you will only be required to pass through the locker room," Dzarnowski said.
Bryant said the pool will have a bathing capacity of 850, and the pool was designed to "allow people to feel some space." The splash pool is totally unique in that the equipment is coming from British Columbia, he added.
"We will have animals with action sounds and/or jungle noises to make it an interactive experience for the kids," Bryant said. "It's not just a swimming experience, we want it to be like a dream as a child — a fantasy safari."
Bryant also pointed out there will be a lot of landscaping at the facility on South 34th Street, south of Veterans Memorial Drive.
"We didn't want just a concrete jungle so the landscaping will fit into our theme. The landscaping will help move people around the facility," he said.
Construction on the Aquatic Zoo started in October. The bathhouse foundation is in place, most of the concrete has been poured for the lap pool, and concrete has been poured for the lazy river and zero entry pool.
Bryant is hopeful that once the pool opens, new additions can be added on at least annually to keep the facility fresh.
"In 10 years, the whole concept may change," Bryant pointed out. "Other facilities similar to this one have failed because things change and the administrators of those facilities have failed to change with the times."
The Parks and Recreation Department hosted the Southern Illinois Parks and Recreation Association monthly meeting at the city park earlier in the day. The department conducted a workshop for the association titled, "Construction of an Aquatic Facility from A to Z."