DECATUR – Only one brave soul entered the water at Fairview Aquatic Center on Saturday.
With temps in the low 70s, swimming apparently didn't appeal to many people.
“I wanted to go swimming,” said Aaliyah Sylvester, 15, who hadn't even removed her cover-up. “I'm trying to go easy and get used to (the water).”
Fairview is open today from noon to 6 p.m. and on Monday from noon to 5 p.m., the last two days of the season and possibly the last two days ever, if construction goes well on the new Nelson Park aquatic center.
“Construction is supposed to start this fall and hopefully we will open in May (2018),” said Bill Clevenger, Decatur Park District director. “A lot of construction is based on what kind of winter we have. If we have a mild winter, things will go along a lot more quickly than if we have a disastrous winter. We won't know until winter's over.”
Bids open at the end of this week, he said, and once a contractor is in place, the park district will have a better idea of a timeline. Plans are to close Fairview once the new facility is finished, but if weather delays construction and the new facility is not ready in time, Fairview will open to serve the community until the new one is ready.
“We really feel we need to position ourselves so there's a public aquatic facility available for the community,” Clevenger said.
Plans for the new water park include a 7,800-square-foot leisure pool with zero beach entry; an interactive play structure in about a foot of water, with small water slides for small children too young for the big slides; water spouts and an overhead water tipping mechanism; a wet deck for sunbathers to sit in shallow water on chairs; open swim area with water volleyball and basketball; a sprayground and play area for babies and toddlers; a lap pool; and a variety of slides, which have not been available at Fairview's facility for several years.
Fairview's manager Kirsten Durflinger is looking forward to the climbing wall, which will also be in the water.
“If you fall off, you fall into the water,” she said.
Many of the 20 lifeguards who work at Fairview will return to work at the Nelson facility, she said, and the larger size and added attractions of the water park will mean the staff will have to double.
Even though the cool temps kept swimmers away on Saturday, Durflinger and two other lifeguards were on duty poolside and others worked in the guard shack.
Seven Sassano sat atop her lifeguard duty station in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, life belt in her hand and whistle in her mouth, ready for anything, but she admitted she was cold. The water temperature was cool but not cold, as long as you weren't wet and standing in the considerable breeze.
“If I have to jump in and pull someone out, I'll do it,” she said.
The only swimmers at Fairview Park on Saturday who didn't seem to mind the cool weather were the ducks and geese on Dreamland Lake, who went about their business just as always.