The future of Splashdown is uncertain as Columbia Association engineers and officials are grappling with how to fix safety problems related to the waterslides.
The Columbia Association announced last week that the annual Splashdown Bash scheduled for Sat. Sept. 17 at the Columbia Swim Center, which is located at the Wilde Lake Village Center, will be postponed. The annual event traditionally marks the end of summer with a party and of course, the opening of the waterslides.
Damage to the stair tower providing access to the slides at the swim center was found during a recent structural engineering inspection, and repairs are estimated to cost $120,000, said Columbia Association Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldman.
And the slide tubes, although safe, will need to be replaced in a few years, which could cost about $250,000, he said.
The facility is more 20 years old.
It originally opened in 1986 and has been a popular spot in the community for birthday parties and other gatherings.
The Columbia Association has structural engineers inspect the facility annually, and beginning in 2007, the issues began adding up, said Goldman.
According to Goldman, the most recent inspection identified two specific problems relating to the stair tower.
Structural steel in the tower needs to be reinforced in several locations, said Goldman, and a number of the concrete stairs will need to be replaced as well.
Before repairs begin however, the Columbia Association will have to decide how they want to deal with the problem.
The Columbia Association is well into the process of developing a long-term master plan for its entire program, which may delay a desicion, said Goldman.
The board of directors will meet on Sept. 22 to decide whether to approve the repairs now, or wait until they see the master plan scheduled to be completed later this year, he said.
Even if the board does approve the repairs this month, it’s uncertain how long the work could take.
Goldman said before any work could even start, the Columbia Association would have to hire an engineer to design the project and even then, repairs could take weeks to complete.
Goldman said Splashdown has been a popular place, but attendance has waned in recent years. The board will likely consider this when making its final decision, he said, adding, “from a purely business standpoint you would probably discontinue it.”
Board member Cynthia Coyle, who represents the village of Harper's Choice, told The Howard Times she does not want to see any money go to the repairs until the board has a chance to review the master plan.
"We know there's a demand for Splashdown," she told the Howard County Times. "But the demand may be even greater for something more."
The structural issues found at the slides will not impact the other features of the facility, and it will maintain its normal operating schedule.