Point Mallard Park looks like it will finish the summer season on the financial plus side despite a wet summer that brought in 19,075 fewer customers to the aquatic center than last year.
Point Mallard Director Stephanie McClain said the park, which also includes the campground, golf course, tennis center and ice complex, has taken in $5.17 million so far in fiscal 2019. The revenues include an anticipated $137,000 check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for expenses from the flood damage in February.
The park has $5 million in expenses, so, pending the final audit of fiscal 2019, Point Mallard will finish on the positive account side for the year by $176,906.
The J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center had 151,258 guests this summer while 170,333 went through the gates in 2018.
Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake said as the season neared its end he knew it would be a close call whether the park would continue its string of finishing in the black financially.
“I was worried until the last little bit,” Lake said. “But then we got the numbers in and our corporate partners came through.”
McClain said the water park’s financial success depends on having good weather. The rainy months of July and August dragged down attendance.
The National Weather Service in Huntsville reported 5.19 inches of rain recorded at the Huntsville International Airport in July, compared to 2.42 inches in July 2018. In August, the area had 3.27 inches compared 1.24 inches in August 2018.
This forced park leaders to really juggle the many temporary employees “and do a good job of putting the right staff in the right place (during the season),” McClain said.
However, McClain said the two holiday weekends that bookend the water park's season — Memorial Day and Labor Day — probably put the park over the top financially.
“The opening and closing weekends were great,” McClain said. “They really saved us.”
The park operated at a loss with annual subsidies from the city in its first four decades, but its financial outlook changed when it was moved into Parks and Recreation under recently retired Director Jeff Dunlap in 2006. Point Mallard has lost money only once in the past 13 years. Dunlap retired in January.
Lake said staff members McClain, her assistant, Shannon Smith, and Nicole Beldren, who runs the aquatic center, had crucial roles in the park's positive financial result this year.
“They took a bad year and made a decent one,” Lake said.