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Controversy surrounds water park at Green Lake

Orchard Park's Quaker Splash, a mini water park on Green Lake, will be opening next weekend, but it is already generating controversy.

Some believe the town's splash park is the worst thing to happen to pastoral Green Lake, while others are looking forward to another fun activity.

The town spent just under $24,000 for the equipment and 75 life jackets that swimmers must wear on the floating devices, Recreation Director Ed Leak said.

Funding for the equipment came out of the recreation trust fund. The plan is to pay it back with the fees charged to use Quaker Splash. The cost is $25 for a family membership, or $5 per person for a day pass.

Green Lake opens June 10 for swimming and boating on weekends, weather permitting, Leak said. Recreation summer programs start June 25, he added.

The first birthday party reservation on the new equipment -- by an Orchard Park resident -- will take place June 16.

Some residents told the Town Board in March they were not happy with what they see as the commercialization of the lake. Increased traffic, parking problems and increased noise from the splash park will take away from the parklike setting, one said.

Harry Yates donated the lake and park for residents to enjoy, not to raise money, said another. Others were upset when they heard the attractions will not be restricted to town residents.

Leak said the only out-of-towners would be guests of town residents or members of municipal day camps that come with a group.

Orchard Park has suggested to other area summer recreation programs that Quaker Splash might make a good day trip for them. He said the town is hosting some recreation representatives in July to show them the setup.

"We all work together formulating day trips for our day camps," he said.

The equipment will be removed from the lake daily, and extra supervision will be on hand to assure that safety measures are enforced, Leak said.

Dave Schuster of South Freeman Road is one resident who has questioned the purchase, which was made without putting the project out to bid. He said the town should have tried to find an American company.

"I purchase my clothing from American manufacturers, shop locally, eat locally and purchase my produce from a local farm through a community supported agricultural farm share. I've been fighting Walmart because of what it can do to local businesses. I do these things because I want this town, this country, to prosper," Schuster said. "It seems a whole lot of buying went on without a whole lot of thinking."

Leak said the town was not required to bid out the purchase, but it did look at several manufacturers and selected one that had the type of fixtures and features the town wanted. The town also checked half a dozen references, he said.

Leak also said he has received frequent inquiries about the splash park and positive comments.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com