The Tulsa Parks department is opening a number of water parks this summer, just in time to help Tulsans beat the heat.
"If people see these, they will want to have one in their neighborhood," said Tulsa Parks director Lucy Dolman. "We don't often get the opportunity to build new things, so we want to make sure they're the best we can get at this time."
After opening an interactive water playground at Maxwell Park on N. Canton Ave. and E. Newton St. last month, Dolman said the city's Public Works Department is currently constructing two more water playgrounds at Chamberlain Park and Owen Park to keep park goers cool during the hot summer months.
The water playgrounds -- at Maxwell and the other parks -- are overflowing with fountains shooting into the air, water guns attached to the concrete and walkways constantly spurting water. In one area, buckets of water dangle overhead and with one pull of a lever, those below become soaked with water.
These summer projects were paid for by Vision 2025 funds.
The Maxwell Park water playground replaced one of the 13 pools closed this summer.
"It took away an eyesore," said Bob Hendrick, Tulsa Parks special event coordinator. "That pool that was there was pretty much unusable. We were able to get rid of it to put in this water playground. It just makes the whole area look so much better.
"If you look at how expensive it is just to upkeep a pool, a water playground is just a small fraction of that."
The next $313,000 water playground scheduled to open the last week of July will also be replacing a public pool at Chamberlain Park that had been closed since 2002.
"It's a great way to repurpose closed swimming pools," Dolman said. "We can't say enough about water playgrounds because you can open them up earlier than the pools, and you don't need lifeguards."
With Tulsa Parks able to open only five public pools at the beginning of the summer due to budgetary issues and structure deterioration, the construction of the new water parks helps fill the void, Hendrick said.
"All you hear about in the news lately is how we've had to cut back and there's no money," he said. "But here we are building and adding."
Chamberlain Park's water playground will be followed by Owen Park's water playground opening in mid to late August. However, Oklahoma weather has added some problems onto the construction process.
"We've had so much rain -- it's been impossible to remain on schedule," Dolman said. "You can't do a whole lot when everything is under water."
However, with most of the public pools closing down August 13, the new water playgrounds will provide fun for families and children throughout the remainder of the summer heat, Dolman said.
Since opening the Maxwell Park water playground, Dolman said she has seen a steady flow of Tulsans taking advantage of the chance to cool down and have fun.
"There are three or four water pumps and fountains that go on at the same time," she said. "It's very interactive. The kids are having a good time with it."
Water playgrounds have been popping up during the past few years throughout Tulsa, but the list of work being done this summer has kept Tulsa Parks and the Public Works Department busy, Hendrick said.
"Public Works was saying they couldn't remember the last time they had so many projects going on at the same time," he said. "They just happened to all formulate around the same time."
And the water playgrounds are not the only projects opening this summer. One other parks project scheduled to open at the end of August is Tulsa's second skate park at Mohawk Park. The skatepark, costing more than $700,000, will include hills and banisters for skaters to test out their talents.
"There is a loyal group following this," Dolman said. "They're very anxious for this to open."
Although skateparks have recently been constructed in cities near Tulsa, this project will be different.
"It's the biggest in the 918," Hendrick said.
To spread the news of the skatepark's opening, Dolman said Tulsa Parks will hold a skateboarding competition at its grand opening, which she said she expects to be at the end of August.
As the Tulsa Parks staff and Public Works wrap up projects before summer comes to a close, Hendrick said he is happy the summer is ending differently than it began with a lingering recession.
"We're just happy to have some new things to tout," Hendrick said.
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