The Splashdown Water Park in East Peoria has seen its last splash, at least for the next 12 months.
Increased maintenance costs at the 22-year-old EastSide Centre facility are the major culprit, according to a news release posted Tuesday morning on the Fondulac Park District webpage.
The total cost to open Splashdown in 2018 would be $266,000, including the replacement of a filtration system. That is more than the park district can handle financially, according to the release. Another $220,000 would have to be spent in 2019 to replace a second filtration system.
The park district tries to keep at least a $300,000 balance in its general fund, according to Mike Johnson, the park district director. The projected expenses would have brought the fund below that minimum.
Fondulac officials sought to install a less-expensive filtration system, but property logistics prevented that.
A park-district survey taken a few years ago revealed only about 10 percent of Splashdown users resided in East Peoria, based on postal codes, according to Johnson.
"How could we, as a government body, in good faith put all this money into it and go to taxpayers and say, 'We're going to keep an aging water park open, even though you guys don't use it'?" Johnson told Nick in the Morning.
The water park has lost more than $400,000 over the past four years, the release stated. Much of that is because of an increase in maintenance issues — worn pumps, filters and parts for the attractions. Corrosion of electrical components and plumbing is a major problem, according to Johnson.
"The problem is the facility has always lost money, from the day it was built," said Johnson, who also cited declines in attendance over the years.
Over the next year, the park district is to determine whether Splashdown should be sold or demolished. Johnson said he doubted anybody would purchase it. Over the long term, he would prefer to see a community-based pool established on the site.
"It was a hard decision," said Johnson, who worked for the park district when Splashdown opened. "Nobody wanted to see this happen, but in good conscience, we couldn't keep putting money into it."
A Journal Star story published in April 2015 warned about the likelihood of Splashdown closing at some point.
Refunds for 2018 Splashdown tickets are available at the park district administration center, where the telephone number is 699-3923.