Revamped aquatic parks to open in St. Charles next year
By Brett Auten
As the sounds of summer start to wane from our ears, look no further than next year when two revamped aquatic parks will ignite fun in the sun.
Excitement and optimism abound at the city of St. Charles Parks and Recreation Department as the passing of Prop P has allowed the start of upcoming projects that will be finished just in time for swimsuit season 2018.
“More rides, more slides and more attractions,” Maralee Britton, Director of the St. Charles Parks and Recreation Department, said. “There is definitely a lot of upgrades. Some big, some smaller. These aquatic parks have seen some wear and tear and there will be a lot of great amenities.”
In August 2016 the residents of St. Charles approved a 1/2 cent sales tax that would be split two-thirds of the funding going to storm water and one-third going to the parks and recreation department for outdoor recreational uses. According to park officials, over the 15-year life of the sales tax, it is estimated to generate $21,000,000 for the parks and recreation department. Of that amount, $18,000,000 has been set aside for the replacement of the Blanchette Aquatic Facility and renovation of the Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility. The remaining $3,000,000 has been allocated towards playground replacements, athletic field light upgrades and ball field upgrades.
After a number of public meetings, staff discussions and presentations with the park board and city council the recommendation was finalized to demolish and replace the Blanchette Aquatic Facility. The new facility is currently being built on the site of the old Boys & Girls Club building that is located adjacent to the current aquatic facility.
Among the several updates at Blanchette Aquatic Facility, located at 1900 W Randolph St., in St Charles, is the children’s activity area with zero depth entry, a spray ground and activity pool, three slides, rock climbing wall, open swim area, lap pool with eight lanes, two diving boards and additional shade and parking.
Wapelhorst closed its doors in July and is currently being demolished with the exception of the main entrance, concession and changing area public building and it famous five story speed slide. The new facility would be built within the footprint of the existing aquatic facility.
The updates at the Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility, located at 1875 Muegge Rd., in St Charles, are several, including: children’s activity area with zero-depth entry, children’s activity feature, spray ground, wet ledge, lazy river, one open body flume slide, one closed body flume slide, a Boomerango multi-passenger slide and additional shade and parking. The five story speed slide and entry building and concession stand will remain.
“The Boomerango is the only one of its kind in our area and possibly the state,” Britton said. “It is going to be a great attraction for us. There is also a lot more things for the tots to do.”
All of these improvements coincide with the 80th anniversary of aquatics in St. Charles. The original Blanchette swimming pool was opened in 1937.
Also part of Prop P is several lighting upgrades – including ball tracker lights – at the athletic fields at Wapelhorst, Blanchette and McNair Fields as well as the Mueller Soccer Complex Fields.
“It was time for some of these fields to get a face lift,” Britton said. “We heard what the community wanted and these are the improvements we’re making. We have hit the ground running and have been going non-stop so it can be done quickly and our residents can reap the benefits.
For more information, visit www.stcharlesparks.com.
CUTLINE: Photos by Ray Rockwell Construction at the Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility, located at 1875 Muegge Rd., in St Charles, continues with a completion date set for summer of 2018.