After more than a decade without a new coat of paint, Ray’s Splash Planet, Mecklenburg County’s indoor water park and fitness center, is set to receive some long-awaited improvements.
The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $15,000 to boost amenities at the aquatics gym, which drew 91,135 visits last year and generated more than $560,000 in revenue.
On top of the wear and tear on the walls and carpet, the center needs new picnic tables, a new freezer and new electrical wiring and conduit that will provide Internet access for a small office inside an adjacent gym, county park and recreation officials said this week.
The splash center, a partnership between the county and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, opened in October 2002 on the campus of Irwin Academic Center on North Sycamore Street. It’s outfitted with the water park, an aerobic and dance room, cardiovascular theater and free weights and resistance equipment.
But the years have worn down the facility.
Park and recreation staff submitted a request for changes ahead of the board’s Tuesday meeting. In a memo to the county, staff members say:
▪ The gym hasn’t had a new paint job since it opened 12 years ago.
▪ Most of the original outdoor picnic tables from the center’s 2002 opening are still in use but covered with rust.
▪ The center’s commercial freezer and dryer need to be replaced. The dryer is over 13 years old and no longer works. The freezer, in the water park’s concession area, is “unusable” and the costs of repairs outpace the costs of a new freezer.
County officials say the center’s main building has Internet capabilities. Their wiring request refers to a gym office in an adjacent building.
Money for the upgrades comes from the parks and recreation department’s capital reserve fund, a coffer of cash set aside specifically for renovations that don’t dip into the general budget, department director Jim Garges said.
It’s unclear when to expect the fixes. Once the work starts, officials doubt it will last very long, a county spokesman said. Work is expected to be finished by the end of fall.
The upgrades come at about the same time as work is continuing on an $8.6 million renovation of another county water facility, the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. Those renovations are expected to be finished within a year and will feature new locker rooms and fitness area, expanded seating and new pool mechanics.
Later this month, Garges said he will present county commissioners with a master plan for the county’s parks and recreation facilities that shows what work the department has completed and what new projects might be on the horizon.
The county’s new budget also includes increased funding for renovations at other area parks, including $10,000 for six new diving blocks at the Marion Diehl Pool on Tyvola Road and other fixes at Berewick Regional Park, Double Oaks Pool/Park, Reid Park and Ramsey Creek Park.
As for Ray’s, any upgrades to the gym and office will have “minimal to no impact” on its operations, the spokesman said.
Cost breakdown for work on Ray’s:
▪ $4,500 for gymnasium repairs that include painting walls, replacing carpet in the gym office and installing wiring and conduit to support the county phone and Internet connection in one office
▪ $4,000 to replace picnic area equipment
▪ $6,500 to replace commercial grade appliances