By Jean Schurman
The skyline around the Bitterroot Aquatic Center has changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks, thanks to the addition of a slide complex. There are three slides ranging from a very twisty slide to one that is almost a straight shot into the pool. The water feature will open for business the first part of June when the outdoor pool opens. Even though one of the slides empties into the shallower end of the pool, it is a low impact slide that is designed so the swimmer makes a big splash across the top of the pool.
The bright blue water feature is from Mason Corporation out of Kentucky. They have had a crew at the center for the past two weeks installing the apparatus. Before the slides could be installed, the center had to extend the cement pad to the west and add the plumbing that will provide the water to keep the slides wet. All of this comes at a price. The cost of the new addition is right at $100,000. The center took out a loan for the funds and through fundraisers, such as its ‘Haunted Swamp’ at Halloween and pool fees, hopes to repay the loan in about five years, according to center manager Fern Schreckendgust.
“We were looking for more things for the kids in their early teens and those just a little younger,” said Schreckendgust. “This gives them another option of things to do.”
The slides have created two more jobs, she said. There will have to be someone checking to make sure thrill-seekers are 48 inches tall or taller as they enter the stairs. There also needs to be someone up inside, making sure everyone is ok.
Schreckendgust says the center employs 32 part time workers in the summer, ranging from life guards and swim instructors to ticket takers. There are four full time workers in the summer and two in the winter. The center also has an indoor pool that is used year round for everything from open swim times to water exercise classes and ‘baby bobbers.’ The center is also available for private parties such as birthday parties, church socials and school events.
The Bitterroot Swim Team will begin its practices there the first of June and typically hosts a swim meet. However this year, Hamilton is the host for the divisional meet which will bring over 400 swimmers and their families to Hamilton. The new slides will not affect the meet, as the lips of the slide don’t jut out over the water.
In addition to the new slide and the Bitterroot Swim Team practices, summer is also the time for swimming lessons. Those two-week sessions begin June 6 and run throughout the summer and are for beginners on up.
The Bitterroot Aquatic Center is located at 59 Kurtz Lane, Hamilton. The phone number is 375-8200. It can also be found on the web at www.Bitterrootaquaticcenter.com.
By Jean Schurman