Discounted vouchers now available for Red Oaks Waterpark

Program provides cost-effective way to cool off this summer

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 19, 2017

MADISON HEIGHTS — Qualifying low-income Madison Heights residents are eligible for free vouchers to Red Oaks Waterpark, thanks to a new program resulting from a City Council initiative.

The vouchers normally cost $14. The same vouchers will be sold at a 79 percent discount ($3) to moderate-income residents, and to all other residents at a 57 percent discount ($6).

Residents requesting free or $3 vouchers will be asked to complete a form that demonstrates household income status. The vouchers are good for any weekday, weekend or holiday through Labor Day, and from the park opening next Memorial Day through the end of the fiscal year in June. The vouchers are available at the Department of Public Services, 801 Ajax Drive, on a first-come, first-served basis, up to a maximum of eight per household, with a limit of two transactions per household per program year.

“Once you’ve hit the limit, feel free to keep checking in,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss in an email. “Staff will evaluate allowing additional purchases per household once we’re able to gauge overall program reception.”

For Bliss, the voucher program is a substitute for his splash pad council goal, where he wanted to install splash pads at a local city-run park.

The splash pad goal, based on public feedback from multiple parks and recreation surveys, ranked high with council, but was deemed unfeasible this year due to budget limitations.

“That said, we recognized the need in our community after seeing the results of the last two public parks surveys, so the voucher program was our creative solution to allocate some small budgetary savings to allow our residents to utilize the Red Oaks Waterpark in our city, while we keep discussions going on a public splash pad,” Bliss said. “The program is set up so no resident is left out. All residents can get discounted passes, and residents who are on extremely tight budgets will be eligible to receive free entry.”

The city’s budgeted amount for the program is $5,000. The Department of Public Services will request additional vouchers, within that amount, as warranted by demand.

Red Oaks Waterpark is located at 1455 E. 13 Mile Road in Madison Heights. Its main attraction is a wave pool with a zero-depth entrance that slopes down to 8 feet, with the waves cycling on and off for 10 minutes at a time.

Other features at the park include the triple-flume waterslide and a children’s playground with a large climbing structure in the water, designed for children 56 inches or shorter, with hundreds of spraying features and a huge bucket that dumps water on a regular interval.

There’s also the lazy river, 990 feet all the way around. The river is only 2 feet 8 inches at its maximum depth, so it’s not very deep, but it has a moving current with a small wave effect, so people can take a tube and enjoy floating around the river. There are also spray features to douse them as they float down the river. Lifeguards are on duty at all of the park’s features.

City Councilman Robert Corbett said he is pleased to see the voucher program come together.

“Over the winter, I was working with a group of council members who were open to the splash pad concept but were concerned about the costs associated with building our own facilities. My analysis was that even if we were successful in obtaining grants to initiate the project, long-term operating and maintenance costs are prohibitive. It seemed there had to be a reasonable alternative, especially considering we have a destination-quality water park already operating within city limits,” Corbett said in an email.

“On a lark, I wrote an email to the city manager asking how many day passes could be purchased for $5,000 — an arbitrary number that represented a fraction of the amount needed to build and operate our own splash pads,” Corbett said. “Conversations continued, and eventually staff prepared a fully fleshed-out program including heavily discounted day and summer passes, plus free family passes for low-income residents. The beauty of the program was we could initiate it in this year’s budget, with still half of the summer season to go.

“Working with the Parks and Recreation Committee, the proposal was fully fleshed out,” he said. “Based on early reactions from families on social media, I think we have a real hit on our hands.”

For more information on the voucher program, call the Department of Public Services at (248) 589-2294.