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Opening with a splash

SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2008

Jakob Welch liked the big bucket, brother Zachary the small red slide.

Sam Cox was all for the lazy river.

But the best feature of the new Southside Family Aquatic Center may be the filtration system.

When a young swimmer threw up in the water shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, the pool had to be cleared.

Angela Cosby, recreation specialist for the Spokane County Parks Department, said the water in older pools might have to be treated for 12 to 24 hours to make sure it is safe. Thanks to an ultraviolet processor at the new facility, and a little chemical treatment, the Southside pool reopened in less than an hour.

And to chill her paying customers, Cosby had free popsicles distributed.

The popsicles were long gone when lifeguards finally blew their whistles, unleashing a fury of splashing and screaming.

The aquatic center is not so much a pool as a wiggle of water with a big slide at one end and a circular wading area at the other.

The serpentine lazy river, with its bubbling water jets and tipping buckets, connects the two ends.

Throw a few dozen kids in the river, and it’s about as lazy as a Hoopfest afternoon. Traffic on the big green slide backed up 15 deep, and the sound level climbed with each flood from the 150-gallon orange bucket.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

Parents said they liked the facility, too, for its price and proximity.

Although not free to children like city of Spokane pools, the charge for youngsters from 3 to 5 years old is $2.50 and $5 for anyone older. Discount coupon books lower the cost further.

Svetlana Cox said she can get 6-year-old Sam to the pool in just a few minutes from Glenrose, compared with an hourlong trip to water parks in Idaho.

“I especially like that,” she said.

“I think it’s pretty good for being close by and for the price,” agreed Jessica Osborn, who also appreciated the popsicles for herself and sons Jakob and Zachary.

The alternative was a long drive or the tiny backyard pool, she said.

Cosby said 471 people were admitted to the pool Friday, opening day. The facility also sports a snack bar and 150 lounge chairs. The $5.5 million facility has overnight security, she noted.

The adjacent Prairie View Park, she said, should open in early July.


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