The aquatics master plan, which was approved on June 14, will keep SplashDown open until either new family-friendly features are constructed or another major SplashDown component requires replacement, whichever occurs first.
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SplashDown was closed for a large part of 2011 after structural issues were found in the stairs tower; a project that cost the CA $84,000 to repair. SplashDown reopened on March 24 after the repairs were completed.
“The number of people using SplashDown has significantly declined over the years,” wrote CA spokesperson David Greisman in an email, echoing what was written in the Aquatics Master Plan. “CA does provide services that cost it money, but this is a case where the cost of maintaining SplashDown doesn’t match up with the lesser number of people who benefit.”
The Aquatics Master Plan notes that in 2011, general attendance of SplashDown amounted to 2,150 people and 419 birthday parties, a decline from 2007 when 5,000 people attended and 680 birthday parties took place.
Also, a recent engineering study noted that the tubes on the slides needed to be replaced, an expense that would cost the CA at least $250,000, according to the master plan.
Greisman wrote that SplashDown is coming to the end of its useful life and that the CA believes there are new amenities that could replace it that would be as, if not more, exciting to the community.
As for what those new amenitites are, Greisman wrote that there are no specific options yet, but that the CA has put out requests for proposals for a consultant to help decide what to replace SplashDown with in the Columbia Swim Center.
Greisman noted the results of that study should be in by the end of the year.
SplashDown, a system of two 40-foot high, 360-foot long swirling slides, was originally built in 1987 and quickly became one of the most popular spots for birthday parties in Maryland, until 2000, when its popularity began to wane, according to the Aquatics Master Plan.
The CA will also be accepting community input during the process to replace SplashDown, according to Greisman.
See past Patch coverage on Splashdown: