The city is getting active in bringing a lazy river to The Beach Ottumwa.
At the Parks Advisory Board meeting Tuesday night, board members approved the concept for the proposed lazy river at The Beach.
The 600-foot long lazy river, the plans for which were prepared by Larkin Aquatics, would cost $2.5 million.
Parks Director Gene Rathje said he’s not sure yet how the city would pay for the project. He said he has heard feedback from the community for several years that people want to see a lazy river added to The Beach.
Jody Williams, of Ottumwa, said she has frequented all of the water parks or swimming pools in southeast and central Iowa at least once.
Board members made the Grinnell and Pella aquatic centers their point of reference in discussing the proposal.
Pella has an “adventure river” rather than a lazy river, which cost $3.3 million and was funded by the city’s 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax. The river is 494 feet long with several water features, including waterfalls, geysers, a tidal tank, 200-foot tube slides and a shallow play area with a family slide and bubblers.
Grinnell’s is truly a “lazy” river, Williams said, as it doesn’t have as many water features as Pella’s.
Pella’s has zero-depth entry, while Grinnell’s has a steps entry, and neither require patrons to use tubes, Williams said.
Rathje said Ottumwa’s plans include both zero-depth entry and steps entry, giving patrons a couple of options.
“We would like Ottumwa to be a hub,” Williams said. “We have the only wave pool in southeast Iowa. Altoona just opened theirs over Memorial Day weekend. Let’s add onto ours with a lazy river and have both a tunnel and an open slide.”
In terms of charging to tube in the lazy river, Williams said if it is required to use a tube in the river, patrons should not be charged, or The Beach should use different sets of tubes for the lazy river and for the wave pool.
Rathje said they will have a separate stand for tubes for the lazy river.
Nick Davis said he doesn’t believe tubes should be required to use the lazy river.
“A tube would be a deal-breaker for me,” Davis said. “I don’t think they should be required just to be in the lazy river.”
The lazy river would not go out into Sycamore Park, Rathje said, nor would it wrap around The Beach. It would be contained in the fenced-in area.
Pella and Grinnell also offer their lazy rivers for exercise, as both are open 6-8 a.m. every day and also one hour before the overall park opens.
Billy Young said Ottumwa has an opportunity with the lazy river to bring in people from out of town. Board president Bob Beisch agreed, as he said driving through The Beach’s parking lot, he always sees a large number of non-Wapello County license plates.
“Generally, water parks do not make money from the local people,” Young said. “They bring outside money into the community.”
The board also considered a proposal from Ottumwa firefighter Derek Fye for a “mud run” in Memorial Park, though Rathje had some concerns.
He said there is a possibility for soil erosion and damage to the parks.
While Fye said there would be little damage to the parks since it would be a “foot race,” Rathje said 300 or more people — the number Fye suggested would turn out for the event — “could do quite a bit of damage.”
Councilman Brian Morgan suggested Pioneer Ridge be considered as a location, and Rathje suggested Lake Wapello.
Fye said the race could include eight to 15 obstacles, ranging from climbing 5-foot walls, climbing hay bales, crawling through tubes, running through car tires and more.
Fye said the Ottumwa Fire Department would like the first race to be in late August or September 2013.
There are several popular mud runs across the country, including Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Warrior Dash.
Board member Don Schwartz said there were too many questions and too few answers at the moment. The board tabled the proposal until further research is done.
An Ottumwa citizen asked that the board consider allowing paddle boats or kayaks on the lagoons in Ottumwa Park.
There is currently nothing in the Ottumwa City Code that prohibits paddle boats or kayaks from the lagoons.
According to city code, only motorboats are prohibited from the lagoons. Swimming is also prohibited in the lagoons.
The board decided the city code should be reviewed and research brought to the next meeting in order to make a decision.
The board approved the second phase of the Memorial Park pond renovation, which was funded by Cargill.
C & J Bulldozing, of Eddyville, has constructed a silt retention pond above the main pond in Memorial Park. There is still $7,000 left in the donation fund and Cargill representatives and city staff want to use the remaining money to remove silt and reshape the upper end of the pond.
Firefighters consider mud run, board looks at paddle boats, kayaks in lagoons
The city is getting active in bringing a lazy river to The Beach Ottumwa.
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