LET US SPRAY! Waterpark opening delayed until June 5

WAITING...Plaquemine Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta awaits the repair of underground water pipes so the Grand Opening of the City’s Spray Park for local children can be held the weekend of June 5-6. The mayor spoke about the expectations he has for the park as workers completed the facility repairs.

One station fills up and then dumps cool and refreshing water. Another twirls and sprays...yet another jets water from whatever piano key you tap your foot upon. And, of course, there are stations you can walk through to get soaked and there a plenty of nozzles in the concrete that spray from every angle.

It is all a wonderful new way for your child to spend a fun-filled summer afternoon or evening in the City of Plaquemine.

It is the new Plaquemine Spray Park that originally was scheduled to open Saturday (May 29), but has been delayed until a tentative opening perhaps Saturday, June 5.

Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta was forced to push back the park opening earlier this week when oil was discovered oozing up to the facility concrete along a strip of epoxy sealer.

Expansion joint material was used on the underground water piping. Due to the recent heat, the material broke down and created an oozing, oily substance that crept up to the surface through the epoxy stripping.

“We decided it would be best to push back the grand opening to allow the contractor to make complete repairs, rather than patch it up. We don’t want oil getting on our children a couple of months down the line. We decided it would better to correct the problem as soon as possible and to move back the opening,” commented Mayor Gulotta.

Once the repairs are made the mayor will give the official go ahead to open the park. He said he was firm with the contractor that he wanted the facility open this June 5-6 weekend after delaying it beyond the upcoming annual Memorial Day weekend.

When it is officially opened, the facility will usher in a new way of life for the children of the city, and Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta cannot wait to “soak down” the populous.

Gulotta looked around for close to six years to discover just the right way to make the city more appealing and supportive of its young citizens and families. He visited San Antonio, Texas to view their special “Spray Fountain” and spoke with numerous pool/spray park operations and contractors. He visited the spray parks located in Gonzales and Lake Charles and finally made the decision to approach the city council with a design and operation that opens to the public Saturday.

Gulotta walked around the new park last week and worried a bit about the finishing touches to the park gates (one on Sherburne Street and the other from the City Park playground). At that time he noticed the oil oozing from the epoxy stripping and noted that he had to address the problem as soon as possible.

“It will be finished in time, but, you know, I will worry it through to the finish,” noted the mayor last week, and prior to the continued concern of the oily leak earlier this week.

The mayor and his office staff were still doing the fine touches to policies, rules, and operational procedures last week.. They will continue to work on the after  the eventual opening. Gulotta said he wants to see how it all unfolds for the public before tweaking regular operation.

He did say expectations are to have operation hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week with the facility closed on Mondays. The park will remain open at least through Labor Day and perhaps a few days after, if it works out.

Gulotta said estimates are the spray park can hold at least 250 people at a time, but the Fire Marshal was expected to give the final say-so this week as to the capacity.

There will be security personnel on hand during all operational hours, according to both Gulotta and Iberville Parks and Recreation District Executive Director Mike Markins. The plan is to use colored arm bracelets to control numbers by the hour.

“Say the red-colored bracelets have been in for an hour and we escort them out and let the yellow-colored bracelets into the water area. We will do what we can to allow a crowd flow to be fair to everyone,” explained the mayor.

One of the additional features of the park is to open it to use by the entire parish. Plans are to have a “Special Needs Children’s Day”, a North Iberville Day, a White Castle Day, and a Bayou Pigeon Day with buses heading to each area of the parish to pick up children for a fun experience at the park. Also in the works is a Teenage Nite, perhaps being held often, depending upon the interest and crowd behavior.

“I want this to be open to the entire public. Teens can bring their little brothers and sisters. But we will not allow older children to take over the park. We require adult supervision for the younger age groups, and so forth,” noted Gulotta, repeating information he provided in last week’s POST SOUTH about the park rules and regulations.

The spray park is the start of several upgrades to be made to City Park. Gulotta noted that some of the playground equipment was there when he was a child and he hopes to begin purchasing some new rides for children. Also, additional parking will be made available In the near future, the field area beyond the T-Ball/Coach’s Pitch diamond fence and near Belleview Dr. will become a parking lot area with a driveway connecting it to Sherburne Street behind the field.

In the meantime, Mayor Gulotta was hoping that in a couple of weekends he can cheer to the crowd: ”Let Us Spray!”