Six months from now, the roar of heavy machinery at Point Mallard water park will be replaced by the sound of splashing water and joyful squeals as swimmers float along the park’s new attraction — the quarter-mile-long Lazy River.
Construction on the nearly $4 million public project is on schedule at the 42-year-old recreational icon.
Officials project the new ride will ramp up attendance and revenues at the park when it opens on Memorial Day weekend.
Swimmers will step into a shallow entry area and be taken downstream by a gentle current, around a 1,044-foot winding loop that includes water geysers, water curtains and a faster “rapids” section. A splash pad, lounge area and waterfall mountain will round out the attraction.
This week, crews from Burleson Master Pools of Huntsville are installing pipes to create water geysers and curtains along the concrete trench that snakes around the western side of the park.
Reed Contracting Services of Huntsville has excavated tons of dirt beside the new archery park to make way for nearly 200 more parking spaces. The excess dirt will be packed around the Lazy River, constructed above ground because of its location near the Tennessee River.
“We think it’s going to open up that whole side of the park,” Point Mallard marketing director Julianne Lowman said. “We’ve always wanted to expand attractions on that side, but it’s been difficult because of the park’s long, thin shape.
“There really isn’t anything on that side to draw younger children and families, and it’s been mostly bigger kids and teenagers over there. The Lazy River incorporates the whole family now.”
The new splash pad will be accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Speed slides will go up, along with more restrooms, lockers and concessions. The park’s original Olympic-size pool will be refurbished and a new west entrance gate erected.
The city is financing the project with $1,039,500 generated by a bond refinance and a $2.75 million tax-exempt bank loan. Point Mallard and Parks and Recreation officials are considering an increase on park admission — currently $18 a ticket — to offset costs for the new attractions. However, any ticket hike would have to be approved by the City Council.
Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap said each time Point Mallard has added a new ride, its revenue has surged by double digits. He expects increased attendance to help pay for the renovation in 10 years or sooner, projecting an extra $300,000 in more revenue. The water park and campground are the only two places in the Point Mallard Complex that operate at a profit.
The water park averages between 130,000 to 180,000 in attendance each summer, generating an average of $500,000 of revenue.
Park officials also are working out a deal to bring the Pickwick Belle riverboat to the park for cruises on certain holidays.
“It would dock right outside of the park, and families could take short cruises around all the little islands we have in the river,” Lowman said. “It would be yet another feature our park has to offer.”
Until Jan. 1, Point Mallard Park is selling an all-inclusive pass for a family of four that includes:
Pass does not include campground rentals. “Family” is defined by two adults and two minor children residing in the same household. To order, call 256-341-4902 or go online to www.pointmallardpark.com.
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