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Ouabache State Park Pool Closure
Why is the pool closing?
Over the past six years, we noticed a steep decline in pool visitation. While there was a time when Ouabache’s pool was the main swimming option in Bluffton, the city now provides many public water features. They have a wonderful public pool, along with splash pads around town. Rather than compete with the City of Bluffton, Ouabache has built a public swimming beach on Kunkel Lake, which is unique to the area.
Can’t you just pay to repair the pool and continue to have it open?
Repair costs were part of the discussion on whether to close the pool, but it was not the deciding factor. When evaluating other swimming options nearby, we determined that repairing the pool was not the best option. The public beach will offer a unique swimming and sunbathing experience not available through facilities in Bluffton or surrounding communities.
Will the beach cost money to use?
The beach will be free with park admission. It offers 16,000 square feet of sand and a 15,000-square-foot wading area. It will be open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day, dawn to dusk. The peninsula where the beach is located will be open year-round to enjoy lake views and have picnics.
When will the beach be done?
The target date is Memorial Day, 2018.
Will I still be able to fish and boat in the lake?
Yes, although no boating or fishing will be allowed in the roped-off area. Furthermore, the addition of a new trail, docks, and aquatic weed control will make fishing access even better.
Is the lake water clean? What about the geese and their droppings?
The water has been tested multiple times for E. coli over the past year, and each test came back well below a threshold for any concern. The water will also be tested for E. coil weekly throughout the swimming season during operating hours.
We have options to gently discourage geese from roosting on the beach, including poppers that emit a bang and scare the geese. Chemical deterrents and physical removal of goose droppings have been considered. We will keep the beach and water as clean as nature will allow.
What will happen with the pool and the building?
The building is structurally sound and, for the time being, it will be maintained for storage. We hope to eventually repurpose it into a useful building for the park. The pool will remain as the property evaluates options. The property believes the pool area and parking lot can also be repurposed for future use.
Will the pool closure affect park revenue?
The park offers great features that will continue to attract guests, including a well-loved campground, the new beach, gorgeous hiking trails, the paved bike path that connects with the City of Bluffton’s River Greenway and runs into Bluffton itself, the bison exhibit, the upcoming firetower restoration and all other activities the lake has to offer make it a great place for “making memories naturally.”
What alternatives were considered instead of closing the pool?
We spent many hours looking at alternatives to closing the pool. We decided that, rather than repairing a pool that has shown steady evidence of declining interest, adding a new water feature to the park was the best option. This way the park can offer free swimming and sunbathing in a setting not found anywhere elsewhere in Bluffton.
What about the camp store and concessions that used to be offered at the pool?
These amenities will be gradually relocated to the boat/beach house. This area is more centrally located and will be easy to access for anyone in the park.