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Replacement of the red slide at Rock River Rapids was officially approved by the city council on June 23. Plans are for a new slide to debut in its place in 2021.

Want and need intersected in an item brought before the Derby City Council at its June 23 meeting. Originally presented to the council at a special budget workshop, a project to replace one of the slides at Rock River Rapids water park was submitted to the council as an action item at its most recent meeting.

As Director of Parks Steve White pointed out, an inspection of the red slide after the 2019 swim season found a large area of the surface was chipping and peeling, a potential injury risk to riders. Repair for said issue was estimated at $20,000.

Between that issue and the fact that no new amenities had been added to the park since its opening, a plan was formed to replace the red slide with a brand new green slide.

“Everything we have there at Rock River Rapids is original equipment from 2003,” White said.

Of the four slides in the vicinity, it was also pointed out that every one has a 48-inch height requirement. That leaves a certain subsection of the park’s clientele (mainly 7, 8, 9 and even some 10-year-olds) lacking features they can take advantage of — being too short for those slides and too big to utilize the amenities of the “kiddy pool” play features.

Slide manufacturer Splashtacular LLC — which worked on initial park designs — came up with a plan for a stand-alone body slide that will extend from the existing tower for the red slide, featuring two loops and a runout flume that allows riders to exit the slide without entering the catch pool (a safety concern council member Andrew Swindle brought up at the budget workshop).

More importantly, the new green slide design would reduce rider height requirement to 42 inches.

“This would be a really great way for us to allow the much younger kids to enjoy the park itself,” White said.

Currently, the project is being proposed in two phases at a total estimated cost of $342,579. Phase one would see Splashtacular LLC create the design and engineered drawings to then manufacture and deliver the slide for installation.

Phase two would be a separate contract for the construction of footings, foundations and all utility connections for slide operation. That work will be bid out, while Splashtacular will handle final installation (while also providing training) of the slide. Plans are for construction to begin after the current swim season ends so the new slide can debut in 2021.

Given that funding is available through the Aquatic Park Fund — using accumulated interest earnings and sponsorship revenue (which city staff proposed attempting to increase in the future) — the city council authorized execution of an agreement with Splashtacular LLC to design, manufacture, install, commission and train staff to operate a new slide for the Derby water park at a cost of $163,760.