Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda City officials believe the absence of a water slide, that was closed for repairs all of last summer at Payne Park Memorial Pool, may have caused attendance numbers to dip.
But that will change on Friday, when the pool reopens for the season, and with a newly refurbished structure in place.
Officials say the 1989 slide was dilapidated and falling apart, creating a challenge with a price tag to fix it set at $100,000. But with a push to handle more projects in-house, the city used its Public Works and Engineering departments to shave off about $40,000 of that total, bonding the remaining costs.
"There were structural issues," said Mayor Rob Ortt. "And our city engineer said we could do it in-house for less."
The move and complexity of the project took longer than expected and kept the structure out of commission for all of 2013. Parks and Recreation Director Patty Brosius said that while attendance was still a healthy 10,000, it was probably a couple thousand less people than usual.
"If our guys hadn't done much of the work on this slide it probably would have been demolished," Ortt said. "They did a phenomenal job but it took all of last year."
Payne Park is one of the more popular summertime destinations in the city, where resident often flock to escape the heat.
While the city awarded a contract to sandblast and paint the slide's frame, the removal of a worn wood fence and rusted out steps, along with their eventual replacement were conducted by members of the DPW, officials said. Dale Marshall said the work would give the structure at least another 15 years of life.
Memorial Pool, first constructed in 1947, and named in honor of those returning from World War II, has been a steady part of the city's cultural identity. It's also a place that picks up when school is out and the area is hopping, in close proximity to the city's commercial center.
On Thursday the Town of Tonawanda opened its four pools — Brighton, Kenmore, Lincoln and Mang — on Thursday, while the City of Tonawanda will open the Kohler Pool on Monday.