(MANHATTAN, KS – February 8, 2021) The City of Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department is planning a modified summer waterpark season with budget restrictions, staffing constraints, and enhanced COVID safety precautions. The initial plan is to open City Park and Northview Waterparks, and the Splash Park in City Park by May 29th.
In early 2020, the City made budget cuts to programs and implemented a hiring freeze with the expectation that revenue for the year would be compromised due to the pandemic. The hiring freeze was lifted in November when Federal funding was received, but not all open positions have been filled.
“As much as we would all like to, opening the third waterpark this season in CiCo Park is unlikely,” said City Manager Ron Fehr. “The City is facing staffing and infrastructure challenges in many departments, including the Parks Division Technicians who are critical to opening and operating the pools water chemistry, pumps, filters and other components to ensure safe water multiple times a day.”
Parks Division staff typically spend 1,000 or more hours in the winter months preparing the three waterparks for opening. That work has not been possible this year due to the loss of staff positions and an overwhelming backlog of other work, including cemetery services, turf maintenance, citywide sanitation and trash removal, street tree maintenance and removal, playground safety inspections and repairs, construction oversight, ice rink operations, snow removal, as well as building and facility maintenance.
More than 125 staff positions must be filled before the two waterparks and splash park can open to the public. The City is actively recruiting aquatics staff and accepting applications for customer service assistants, lifeguards, swim coaches, and cashiers. Applications and job descriptions are available online at www.cityofmhk.com.
To keep the public and staff safe at waterparks during COVID-19, the City is planning to adopt new protocols and procedures, which will likely include limiting attendance. When those plans are finalized, they will be published on the Manhattan Parks and Recreation website at https://www.mhkprd.com/.
“The goal is to open as many resources for recreation as possible this summer, including two of the three waterparks, while doing so safely and responsibly,” said Aquatics Division Supervisor Sydni Baker. “We’ll do everything we can to make the waterparks safe for everyone who wants to visit.”
The mission of Manhattan Parks & Rec is to build a healthy community through people, parks, and programs. More information is available at www.mhkprd.com, or by calling the Parks & Recreation office at 785-587-2757 during regular business hours. Follow Manhattan Parks & Rec on Facebook at ManhattanParksandRec or on Twitter, @ManhattanPRD.