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Splash Valley to reopen

July 15, 2018

KANKAKEE — The Splash Valley Aquatic Park once again will be a place for summertime fun.

Whether that happens next summer or the summer of 2020 is not yet known.

At a Thursday meeting, the Kankakee Valley Park District Board agreed to selling $2 million of government obligation bonds specially targeted to rehabilitate the water park last used in the summer of 2015.

The bond issue has not yet gone up for sale, but Dayna Heitz, the district’s executive director, said Friday she expects this will be done very soon. The bonds will be repaid on a seven-year schedule.

Heitz said KVPD taxpayers will not experience an increase in property taxes because of these bonds. Heitz explained the district bonding traditionally was used for operations, but she has ended that practice. Bonding is only used for capital projects such as the pool.

She noted fundraising efforts also will begin to staff the location and help purchase supplies.

Opened in 2004, the park experienced an extensive list of problems from leaking pipes to cracking infrastructure, which made operating the park in a fiscally responsible manner impossible.

“Basically, we are starting from scratch,” she said. “But this is huge. We are very, very excited. We want this to be a home away from home for our residents. We want to develop a community pool. We are looking to bring back the basics.”

Heitz confirmed the lazy river will be no more. She is looking to extend the three-lane lap pool to an eight- to 10-lane pool. She also is seeking more diving boards.

Heitz said the three-slide feature will remain, as will the zero-depth pool and concessions building.

The project’s first phase will be gaining proposals from architects and engineers. The goal is to begin construction in spring 2019.

Heitz was asked if the pool would be ready for the summer 2019. She said that question is one she can’t answer now.

She said a timeline will become clearer when it is learned what condition existing infrastructure is in and the ultimate scope of work.

The park, along River Road near Kankakee Community College, has been closed for the summers of 2016, 2017 and 2018.

When Heitz began her tenure as the district’s executive director in October 2016, she made it clear getting the pool opened was a top priority.

Splash Valley was constructed with a $6.6-million Illinois First grant directed here by then-Gov. George Ryan.

Commissioner Dave Skelly said Friday having the pool reopened as basically a new facility for about one-third of its original construction cost is a great move.

“I believe it would be crazy not to pursue this. I’ve always been confident we could get this done,” he said.

Skelly said having the pool sitting vacant is doing no one any good.

“I believe this will be a wonderful deal, and we are still living within our means,” he said.

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