When Counsilman-Hunsaker and Capri Pools designed the new White Birch Bay Aquatic Center, they wanted to step it up a notch from other aquatic facilities in the region. Having opened in 2008, the outdoor mini water park made quite an impression on Hazelwood residents and already made a splash in the St. Louis Post Dispatch “GO!” Magazine when it ranked among the top nine water parks in “Our Guide to the Best Water Parks.”
“The reaction from the public has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Doug Littlefield, Hazelwood Parks & Recreation Division Supervisor. “The dramatic change from a traditional "L" shaped pool has not only attracted many new patrons but has allowed us to add additional aquatic programming and special events. I feel we did a great job of including all the amenities that patrons would expect and were still able to provide a few surprises that make our facility unique and exciting.”
Park and recreation amenities stimulate happier and healthier families, positive business growth and economic development opportunities. Creative, active people choose to live in communities with high quality amenities and experiences. The benefits of appropriate outdoor play for children, combined with adult supervision, supports childhood learning, discovering, and development. Adolescents who reside in communities with recreation opportunities usually experience higher rates of positive maturity. Seniors who stay energetic in regular physical activity usually experience reduced health problems.
By integrating features and fitness challenges never-before-seen in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the result is a resort-like municipal aquatic facility with an excellent combination of passive and active amenities for all ages — not to mention the bathhouse with a large observation deck, a rentable party room for 225 guests, and colorful shade umbrellas and arbors that turn everyday into a celebration.
Upon entering the open-air lobby, guests spot the vibrant aquatic scene awaiting them, and immediately the outside world already seems far away. The spectacular outdoor setting is enhanced with the rhythm of waterfalls and the rustling summer breeze through faux palm trees. Swimmers of all ages swoosh down the 5,300 ft. lazy river, which is anything but lazy since it’s actually an adventurous wave river with elevated rock walls and an island. Daring kids climb on the 360 degree bubble slide resembling a giant blue Jello mold — the first one of its kind constructed in the United States — an exciting soft climbing and sliding attraction inspired by European water parks.
Joyful squeals abound when the large bucket of water topples from the participatory play feature, essentially a multi-level interactive water play structure for children for climbing, crawling, operating valves and sprays, and just their size waterslides. Two giant waterslides keep bigger kids and even bigger adult “kids” climbing and plunging into the water for hours of cool entertainment fitness. Not to be outdone, a 1,300 sq. ft. wading pool includes an exotic waterfall backdrop. On the periphery, adults stretch out on Caribbean blue lounge chairs while parents help their little ones become acquainted with aquatics by using a zero point of entry into the pool for safety (also safe for populations requiring accessibility). The tot pool offers gentle spray features and a baby shark slide for Hazelwood’s tiniest guests.
The grand design wouldn’t be complete without a pool to completely submerge in on a sizzling summer day. The 25-yard fitness pool, AKA the White Birch Bay Shark Tank, provides six lap lanes and two springboards where older kids jump off one by one under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. Adults and seniors enjoy swimming laps, and the pool supports swim team capabilities.
The glittering sunset marks the center’s transition from a sunny paradise to a lingering moment by the pool, either to remember the day or to make plans to quickly return for the ultimate in barefoot fun. Better buy a season pass!
White Birch Bay is open daily Memorial Day through mid-August then on weekends mid-August through Labor Day. Operating hours are from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission prices for children and seniors are $4 residents and $7 nonresidents. For people age 16-55, admission prices are $5 residents and $8 nonresidents. Party packages are available for private celebrations, birthday parties, anniversaries, family reunions, and employee appreciation events.
NUTS & BOLTS
Cost: $6 million
Aquatic space: 17,000
Dream amenities: Water Bubble from Recrea in Sweden — one of 6 in the U.S.; Wave River and Wave Tot Pool; open and closed flume waterslides
- Dream Designer: Capri Pools & Aquatics
- Aquatic Designer: Counsilman-Hunsaker
- Architect: Cornerstone Architecture
- Building Contractor:Contegra Contracting
- Structural Engineers: BSE
- MEP: Frontenac Engineering
- Chemtrol: Chemical control
- Durafirm: 1-meter dive stands
- ITT Marlow: Pumps
- KDI: Ladders/grab bars
- Murphys Waves: Wave machines
- Natare: Lap pool flooring
- Paragon Aquatics/Stark: Filters
- Recreonics: Cleaners/vacuums, starting platforms, miscellaneous competition equipment, lane markers
- Splashtacular: Water slides
- WhiteWater West Industries: Water slides