SANTA ROSA, NM (KRQE) – When Albuquerque’s Beach water park went under a decade ago, a small New Mexico city saw an opportunity.
Why not take the water park and move it to their town?
That’s exactly what the city of Santa Rosa did but nine years later, it’s clear things didn’t go as planned.
The story starts in 2006 when the Beach was auctioned off. Originally opened in 1987, the water park had closed for good in 2004 following a failed health inspection.
Santa Rosa city manager Tim Dodge was at the auction.
“It just so happened that I was able to bid on the whole Beach water park,” Dodge said. “All the slides, all the canopies, all the equipment, the chairs.”
The winning bid was $198,000 and the city quickly moved the pieces to town.
But why was Santa Rosa buying a water park in the first place?
The idea was to better showcase and utilize the city’s many natural lakes. Park Lake was to be the site of the new water park, tall slides and all.
However, people who weren’t thrilled were the neighbors there.
“There were sections of the community that didn’t want to see a permanent structure going into the residential area,” Dodge said. “The community really didn’t support it.”
So instead of building a water park, the city bought big fiberglass slides with no place to put them.
They now sit in two sizable piles south of I-40, nearby the lakes they were meant to help promote. Many are cracked and worn from sitting out for nine years. Some have muddy puddles inside while others are filled with tumbleweeds. The big sets of stairs that led up to the top of some of the taller slides now lie in a heap as well. The pump that came with those slides is rusting away too.
The water park that never was has been the subject of a lot of debate in the small city of less than 3,000.
According to the Guadalupe County Communicator, former Mayor Albert Campos believed it was a boondoggle. His administration directed staff to sell off metal parts as scrap. About $20,000 was raised from selling copper from the equipment, according to Dodge.
But even today, Dodge chafes at the idea that the city wasted money.
“That would be a matter of opinion,” Dodge said.
He points out that many of the other things bought from the old water park, such as canopies and roofing materials, have been used elsewhere in the city. While Dodge believes there’s still hope those fiberglass slides could be used someday, that day doesn’t appear to be anytime soon.
“Currently there is no project slated to rehab or erect those water slides,” Dodge said.
In the meantime, the city has new plans for Park Lake. The new thought is to buy an inflatable play structure and put it out on the lake in the summer months.
As for the slides. Dodge says the city’s going to hold onto them and see what the economy does.