Board Chair Talks Process of Installing Inflatable Water Park
NEW BEDFORD —Following a “soft opening” of the inflatable water park at East Beach on Saturday, the Conservation Commission is calling a meeting Tuesday to discuss the fate of the inflatable attraction.
The City's Park Board had moved ahead with the decision to install the water park, bypassing the Conservation Commission, City Council and other governing bodies related to New Bedford’s waterways.
The Park Board failed to notify the Conservation Commission about the partnership with Altitude H2O – the parent company of the inflatable water park - to open in the ocean waters just off the city's beach. Park Board Director Mary Rapoza pleaded ignorance of the process and attended Conservation Committee meeting earlier this month to further discuss the situation.
On the Chris McCarthy Show on Monday, Park Board Chairman Peter Boswell said the board came up with the idea during executive session a few months ago. He says the Park Board was not required to seek permission for the water park from the Conservation Commission after receiving approval from state and federal agencies.
“Every year the Park Board goes into executive session. We have a retreat where we discuss signage, rules and regulations, and certain proposals from the City that are brought before us. RFP’s do not have to be voted on by the Park Board, but we were all in attendance at the retreat. We looked at it and I thought it was a fantastic idea,” Boswell said.
“Being in executive session we discussed it a thought it was a great idea. I looked at this proposal and I read it fully. It’s a huge binder. It’s a very well respected company out of Texas. They have 15 of them throughout the country. I thought it was a great idea and I thought the location was fantastic.”
Inside a packed City Hall last week, Conservation Commission Chairman Craig Dixon stated that the water park would not be permitted to open until the commission has officially confirmed the environment will be protected. Just days later, the Park Board allowed the water park to open to the public on Saturday.
When it comes to any potential environmental impacts of the park, Boswell says the Park Board received a letter on Friday from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
“We received a letter on Friday from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, which said, ‘This project, as currently proposed, will not adversely affect the actual resource area habitat of state protected rare wildlife species. Therefore, it is our opinion that this project meets the state listed species performance standard for the issuance of an order of condition.’”
Chairman Dixon and the other members of the Conservation Commission have the power to order a cease and desist against the Park Board and Altitude H20. As WBSM’s Chris McCarthy points out, during the Kalisz Administration, the Conservation Commission seized the swan boats at Buttonwood Park in a similar dispute.
The Tuesday meeting will be a continuation of the discussion by the Conservation Commission about the water park after it was tabled in the previous meeting on July 2.