This summer, a new attraction is coming to town. The Pawling Recreation Department has announced the addition of a sixteen-foot inflatable waterslide to the waterfront of Lakeside Park. Ultimately, the Recreation Department envisions an entire Aquapark consisting of large, inflatable floating playground pieces that allow for a number of summer activities. The concept was introduced by Recreation Director Jessica Dickinson at a Town Board meeting last month.
During her presentation at the April 10 meeting, Dickinson outlined her ideas for making an Aquapark a reality in Pawling. “We have a lot of great things here,” she said of Lakeside Park. “And I have a vision for making the lake an even more fun place.”
Aquaparks comprise large, durable floats that are anchored offshore in deeper waters. An array of options can be purchased individually, including slides, trampolines, rock walls, paddleboard docking stations, and even zip-lines. Aquaparks are accessible for all ages, with shallow-water equipment available for younger children.
The genesis for the Aquapark idea came when Recreation Department staffers attended The Tri-State Camp Conference in Atlantic City, NJ, last month. “We saw these giant inflatable pieces, and we thought we could put one of these on our lake,” says Dickinson. “It could really help us ramp up our camp experience.” The team also drew inspiration from Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park in Portland, CT, which features similar equipment.
The Pawling Recreation Department will purchase the waterslide from Commercial Recreation Specialists in Verona, WI, at a cost of approximately $9,000. The money will come out of the Town’s Recreation Fund, which is designated for the enhancement of recreation activities in Pawling.
The Recreation Department acted swiftly to secure the new slide in preparation for the “Pawling Plunge” on Friday, May 24. That evening, membership holders will have an opportunity to try the new equipment and be the first to use the waterfront for the upcoming season.
Dickinson also recognizes possible concerns about an Aquapark. “Safety will be our Number One priority,” she says. In addition to a lifeguard stationed near the equipment, swimmers will be required to pass a deep-water test, adhere to capacity limits, and wear life preservers to ensure safety.
Recreation Department officials also realize the importance of preserving the aesthetics of Lakeside Park for residents. “There is a lot of scenic beauty in this lake, and we will place the equipment in a mindful way,” explains Dickinson.
The Aquapark will serve not only as an added attraction for Pawling residents, but also as an incentive to increasing park memberships and drawing in out-of-town guests. Says Dickinson: “There are lots of ways to increase revenues from non-residents. This could be a great potential source of revenue.” The Recreation Department is also considering a fee for use of the Aquapark, separate from regular lake memberships.
Elsewhere in Lakeside Park, The Shed Haus of Pawling has donated a shed that will serve as a new outdoor base of operations for summer staff. The new structure will be closer to the waterfront and make for a more efficient check-in system as well as allow for storage for equipment and first-aid supplies. The new shed will also be selling cold treats, drinks, and packaged food.
As the summer season draws closer, Jessica Dickinson and her team are hopeful that the Aquapark will bring new enjoyment to the waterfront at Lakeside Park. “I know there is a lot of passion in this community to be a part of something exciting,” she says. “We knew we needed something big, and this will draw people back to the lake.”
The waterfront at Lakeside Park is set to open on Memorial Day weekend, starting with the “Pawling Plunge,” on Friday, May 24. Season passes to Lakeside Park can be purchased by visiting PawlingRec.com online.