ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Patrons of Hillsboro’s proposed family aquatics center can expect to enjoy their water fun next summer amid palm trees and other tropical touches.
Members of the Hillsboro City Council and representatives from the Hillsboro Recreation Commission met in special session Monday morning with Nancy Ronto of Burbach Aquatics, the firm that is planning the city’s proposed center, to make key design decisions about the $2.5 million project.
One of the basic issues was determining the theme or color scheme for the facility. After an initial discussion about incorporating school colors, the group opted instead for a theme that would create the effect of “a tropical oasis in the middle of the prairie.”
Also contributing to the theme selection was the group’s design choice for the small water slide that will be featured in the zero-depth entry end of the pool. The slide will be built in the shape of a catamaran, complete with a sail and surrounded by palm trees.
The design of the slide was developed recently by Burbach Aquatics, according to Ronto. Only one other slide with the catamaran design has been installed in the country, and no other pool in Kansas will ever have it, she added.
Before choosing that design, some members of the group wondered what will keep children from climbing the palm trees. Ronto replied appropriate signage and the watchful eye of lifeguards will be required.
In addition to the small slide for younger children, the center design includes floor geysers and a multi-play system in the zero-depth area, plus two one-meter diving boards and a large water slide in the deeper portion of the pool.
During the work session, Ronto led the group through a checklist of more than 35 items for which she needed input.
One of the key concerns of the group was that the sail on the small slide, and such things as the deck umbrellas and even the leaves of the synthetic palm trees stand up well in Kansas wind.
Ronto agreed, and recommended using an open-weave material rather than the more trad- itional canvas.
As for a color scheme, the group identified five “tropical” colors-yellow, teal, orange, light blue and spring green-but gave Ronto authority to work with designers to apply those hues in the most aesthetically pleasing way.
The aquatics center, which will be located along D Street near the entrance to the Sports Complex, is slated to be completed in time for the 2006 swimming season.