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Barnum Splash Pad finally opens, mostly intact

After close to a year and a $3.5 million renovation, the Barnum Splash Pad at Barnum Park opened Thursday for its first weekend of the summer -- but not without a few snags. On Saturday afternoon, officials shut down the pool at around 4:30 p.m. to repair a broken pipe.

"We were full," says Ronalda Arends, the clerk on duty at the Barnum Recreation Center, where the pool is housed. "We were crazy full. But our pipes broke." Evidently, a problem with drainage had caused pool water to start backing up into the men's locker room.

"The weather seemed to be turning," explains Jill McGranahan, spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, "so they decided to shut down a little early and just get the problem fixed. So they called in the roto-rooter and had it back online by Sunday morning at 11," when the pool opens.

"You know," she adds, "those pipes had set idle since the previous season."

Right, but wouldn't the renovation have taken care of that?

"When you do a kitchen remodel, do you replace all the pipes?" McGranahan shot back. "The bond was to make improvements to existing pools. It wasn't for infrastructure."

But the pipe problem isn't the first wrench in the Splash Pad's gears. Intended for the beginning of the season, the remodeled pool's debut had to be delayed several times due to weather issues, crime and vandalism. Graffiti went up. Contractor equipment was stolen. During the construction of an area featuring a design of a red pinwheel, vandals reappropriated the red paint and tossed it into the still-empty pool. "I'm not sure what that was about," says McGranahan.

With the paint cleaned up and the pipes fixed, the Splash Pad ran into one final snag late Sunday afternoon: a storm. "Come on, we got to get out," some kid commented after lifeguards called everyone out of the pool. "There's lighting in the pool."

But other than that, Arends says, business has been gangbusters: "Everything's been going great. It's one of the best splash pads in Denver. And we've been super full so far."

So full, in fact, that lifeguard Riley Price even laments the publicity he speculates this article might generate: "Now people are going to know, and it's going to get even busier."

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte