PELL CITY -- As the city splash pad is coming to a close for the season, officials said the new facility has covered its expenses and profited for the second consecutive year.
“I wish everything in the city that we operated made money,” said Councilman Jay Jenkins. “This may be the only thing in the city that does.”
The $1.6 million attraction, which includes new parking, will complete its second season at Lakeside Park with operating revenues exceeding operating expenses each year by about $9,000. Parks and Recreation Director Harold “Bubba” Edge said the last day of operation for the year is a week from Sunday, Sept. 24.
Edge said while individual attendance numbers are down this season, rental numbers are significantly higher than last summer. Edge said he was unsure why individual entrance fees are down from 2016.
“I’m not sure if the newness is wearing off or that people get there and see all three pavilions full of people and say, ‘We’ll just come back another day when it’s not so busy,’” he said.
Last year, the splash pad brought in $33,134 via individual entrance fees. This year, those same fees have brought in $24,297.
However, the splash pad has brought in about $6,000 more in rental fees this year for the three on-site pavilions. Edge said all three pavilions have been rented out for most of the summer.
“We got our first booking in March, two months before we opened,” he said.
Edge also pointed to the difference in the weather from last year to this year.
Last year, Alabama was in a severe drought, and it was hot up until November, he said. Edge said we are already experiencing cooler weather this year.
“When we closed last year, it was still hot,” Edge said.
Individual pass sales for May were 1,153, compared to 1,790 in May 2016; 3,132 individual passes were sold in June, compared to 3,760 last year; 2,840 passes sold this July, compared to 3,450 a year ago; and 974 individual passes were sold in August, compared to 1,483 in August 2016.
Pavilion numbers this season far exceeded numbers from 2016. In May, 220 people used the pavilions, compared to 90 last year; that number was up to 300 in June, compared to 195 the previous year; and the total was 450 people during July, compared to 340 in July 2016.
There was a decrease in the number of people using the pavilions in August -- from 490 in August 2016 to 340 in the same month this year. However, there was an increase in September, with 260 people using the pavilions, compared to 160 a year ago.
Total attendance numbers this year for the splash pad are at 9,669, compared to 12,319 last year, but there is still a week left in the season.
The Parks and Recreation Department reduced the attraction’s operating hours during the past four weeks, Thursday-Sunday, after school began.
“Although most similar facilities close after Labor Day weekend, the city has continued to operate throughout the month with fair, although substantially lower, attendance,” Edge said.
The biggest reduction in operating costs this season was employee expenses.
“Everything was new to us last year, so we did not know how many employees to have during certain times,” Edge said.
He said attendance at the splash pad was much lower during the weekdays, so the number of employees at the facility was reduced during that time, saving the city money this season.