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Splash Valley return date: May 16, 2020

October 11, 2018

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee Valley Park District has found a buyer for its $2 million issue of government bonds, and the wheels are in motion for a May 2020 reopening of the shuttered Kankakee aquatic park.

The bond sale between the park board and the Des Moines, Iowa, investment group D.A. Davidson & Co. is set to close on Oct. 24.

The bond money can only be used on Splash Valley Aquatic Park improvements.

Splash Valley, opened in 2004, was last available for public use in the summer of 2015. It has been closed for the summers of 2016, 2017 and 2018, and will be closed for 2019 so extensive repairs and upgrades can be made.

Dayna Heitz, KVPD’s executive director, said the board is looking to add an eight- to 10-lane, 60-meter swimming pool with diving boards. She said this pool likely would range in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet.

As has been said in the past, the Lazy River feature — which had been leaking hundreds of gallons of water on a weekly basis because of extensive cracking — will be removed.

If all goes as being discussed, the addition to the current three-lane pool will be directly east of its current location. It is not yet known if the pool will be an expansion of the existing pool or a separate structure.

A large splash pad also is being targeted for the area where the Lazy River was located. Heitz said it is not yet known if that feature will be ready for 2020 or 2021.

“This has been my mission since Day 1. The board also wanted Splash Valley up and running, but we had to get our house in order first. We are getting that done,” Heitz said.

Park board president J.J. Hollis said the park rehab has been a long time coming.

“To pull this off is incredible. You (Heitz) told us to be patient. It would happen,” he said to Heitz. “I believed you.”

The water park is expected to open May 16. In past years, the district didn’t open the park until Memorial Day weekend.

Heitz said projections are Splash Valley will cost the district $323,210 to operate the pool. She said through sponsorship and fees, the pool is projected to bring in $331,478 for a small profit of $8,268.

The district currently has an operating budget of $3.2 million. The addition of the aquatic park would raise the budget by 10 percent. Heitz plans on selling corporate sponsorship to ease operations costs on the public.

She anticipates hiring 100 to 150 part-time summer workers to manage the facility. She noted some staff would only work a few hours per week.

The rehab process has yet to begin. The board plans to have an engineering firm hired by early November. The goal is to have construction workers on site in the spring of 2019.

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