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Columbia children's water park gets makeover fit for high seas

Thursday, May 16, 2013 | 7:14 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 16, 2013

COLUMBIA — Young pirates can seek relief from the hot, midday sun this summer at Twin Lakes Recreation Area off Chapel Hill Road. They'll drop anchor at Little Mates Cove, where cannons shoot water and palm trees sprout sprinklers, not coconuts.

Starting May 25, the 18-year-old children's water park will feature new high-seas attractions thanks to money provided by the 2010 Park Sales Tax

The renovations are part of a $250,000 project at the recreation area, which also includes improving the two dog parks in the area.

Gabe Huffington, park services manager, said the water features will be completed on opening day, but there will be a temporary entrance while construction continues on a new admissions and concession building.

Little Mates Cove was built in 1995, and Huffington said this is the first major work done on the water park since then. 

"It was an aging facility that needed some improvements," Huffington said.

Matt Boehner, senior parks planner, said the renovations also address some accessibility and safety concerns the city had. A boardwalk that runs above the water was rebuilt because the bridge hadn't been replaced since the nineties and some of the wood was rotting.  

Columbia Parks and Recreation began the project by removing the old spray features and adding the new pirate-themed features. Swaying palm trees and flowers, a pirate ship mast and water cannons will spray children as they play.

The pool deck was sandblasted and painted and additional seating was also added to accommodate the new concessions building on the site. A new shelter will provide space for birthday parties at Little Mates Cove. 

"We think it's going to provide aesthetic and draw more people to come out and use the water park," Boehner said.

The city is also completing projects at several other parks. A new building is being constructed at Cosmo Park near football fields five and six, which will provide shelter and a space for the Columbia Youth Football League to sell concessions during games. The shelter is expected to be finished by mid-June. A project to replace the piping and spray heads at the Flat Branch Park recreation fountain is expected to be completed in about three weeks.


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