Killens Pond Water Park expected to draw more visitors after renovations

Darren Lawson, the Killens Pond Park Superintendent, hopes to have $3 million in renovations to the Water Park ready to open early in July. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Darren Lawson, the Killens Pond Park Superintendent, hopes to have $3 million in renovations to the water park ready to open early in July. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

FELTON — The four brightly colored tubes being erected about 45 feet into the sky at the Killens Pond Water Park already have visitors buzzing and asking questions about them.

That’s exactly what Darren Lawson, park superintendent of Killens Pond State Park, was looking for when he and his staff envisioned what kinds of things could rekindle interest at what had become a stagnated water park.

The four tubes eventually will make up the water slides at the heart of a $3 million-plus water park renovation project nearing completion. It’s anticipated the slides will be open the first week of July, weather permitting.

The new slides will be almost double the height of the two 26-foot slides the park used to feature.

Alexis Stombaugh, the seasonal manager of the Killens Pond Water Park, stands beside Killen Pond State Park Superintendent Darren Lawson while new water slides were being built earlier this week.

Alexis Stombaugh, the seasonal manager of the Killens Pond Water Park, stands beside Killen Pond State Park Superintendent Darren Lawson while new water slides were being built earlier this week.

“Basically, we’re bringing back the fun … and the ‘Wow!’ factor,” Mr. Lawson said. “We built a 45-foot tower that has four slides coming off of it. We’ll have two speed slides, which are new for us, we’ve never had those. They’re kind of a straight down, whoop-dee-doo, and you run out until you stop and then you just stand up and get out. It doesn’t go into a pool.

“The others will be the traditional two body slides that empty out into a pool.”

The water park also added a safety change to the front entrance so that pedestrians will be safer from the traffic flow.

The Killens Pond Water Park opened to large crowds on Memorial Day weekend but had to close the week after due to construction. Mr. Lawson said the park is now open for the season with the improvements project.

It marks the first time the park has undergone a renovation other than regular maintenance and upkeep since its opening 20 years ago.

“Right now, we’re a little over $3 million on this project,” Mr. Lawson said. “The funding has come from in-house and we’ve also gotten start-up monies from legislators and that kind of thing. Our Friends of Killens Pond group was really good in being a liaison for us and getting the project started.”

The renovation project had been on the drawing board since three years ago. Construction began on the

Renovations are expected to be complete next month.

Renovations are expected to be complete next month.

improvements early this year.

Mr. Lawson said he knew improvements had to be made. After all, the water park had drawn from 75,000 to 100,000 visitors each summer since its opening but had seen a downtown since around 2007.

“In our heyday from 1996 to 2007 we were really high on attendance and then we experienced a drop off that it seemed like the whole water park community had,” he said. “I think the drop off in attendance was probably a been-there, done-that type of thing.

“We hadn’t really changed anything or done anything to this facility other than upkeep and maintenance and keeping things safe.”

So the two slides originally built in 1996 were taken down two years ago due to aging and safety concerns and a smaller, temporary slide was installed until the renovations could be made.

Alexis Stombaugh, the seasonal manager of the Killens Pond Water Park, believes the addition of the four new slides will make a huge difference to the attraction.

This year marks the first time the park has undergone a renovation other than regular maintenance and upkeep since its opening 20 years ago.

This year marks the first time the park has undergone a renovation other than regular maintenance and upkeep since its opening 20 years ago.

“I actually miss the two slides we used to have so I’m very excited for these to open, especially since they’re much higher up,” Ms. Stombaugh said. “I know our patrons are excited for them to open as well. They’ve been asking a lot of questions like, ‘When is it going to open?’ and ‘How tall is it going to be?’ and everything else, so I can’t wait.”

Ms. Stombaugh said she remembers the buzz the old water slides used to create, so the new ones should be double the fun.

“Our two big slides were a huge hit when they were here,” she said. “To me, that’s probably what brought a lot of people here were the two [old] slides, so when these four slides open, we’re definitely going to be booming when it comes to our patrons.”

That’s what Mr. Lawson is hoping for.

“This project is going to help us get back to where we want to be,” he said. “We’re expecting to attract between 100,000 to 110,000 people in three months this season.”

Mr. Lawson also said don’t expect the new water slides to be the only renovation that will be taking place at Killens Pond. He said he can foresee around six phases of renovations to the water park in the near future, as revenue becomes available.

“Hopefully, when it comes to making improvements to the water park, we’re just getting started,” he said.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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