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There’s been a slight change in plans with Butte’s new $8.7 million water park now set to open to everyone at noon on Saturday, June 23.

The giant slides and play features are up and there’s water in the pools and lazy river, but construction crews were busy on Tuesday and work will continue at a fast pace so folks can splash in 11 days from now, said Parks Director J.P. Gallagher.

The opening was originally planned for Memorial Day weekend but lingering winter weather pushed that back to June 20.

The plan now is to hold an open house on Thursday, June 21, for county officials, donors and the Friends of Stodden Park group that promoted the complex and the $7.2 million bond measure that voters approved to fund most of the project.

Then on Saturday, the pool should be open to everyone, Gallagher said, with splashing set for noon.

He said Butte-based Markovich Construction Inc., the general contractor for the project, “has assured us they can meet that deadline.”

Most of the major work is done, including the building and its reception area, lockers and restrooms, showers and the concession area. But there are plenty of finishing touches to be made in the next week.

A large section of the building houses all the pipes and pumps and boilers necessary to fill the pool, keep its water between 84 and 87 degrees and maintain a current in the 400-foot-long lazy river so people can float it without any effort.

The current can be dialed up or down — not to any huge degree, but enough to tell a difference, Gallagher and a construction worker said.

The water temperature can be raised and lowered a bit depending on how cool it is outside. So, on a day like Monday — when it snowed for a brief time in Butte — it could be warmed a little so people could swim if they wanted, Gallagher said.

“We do have cool days but we don’t have a lot of days with storms,” Gallagher said. When it does storm, precautions will be taken, including shutting down the pool until any lightning has passed.

The giant slides will have running water in them to keep them slick and those will be tested in the next day or two. And water in the pool and lazy river, which has a little sand in it now, will be “crystal clear” by opening day, Gallagher said.

The lifeguards will be ready to go to work next week, he said, with 10 on duty stationed around the pool and lazy river at all times. They will get breaks and will rotate stations every 15 minutes to keep them on their toes, he said.

“The open house gives us a couple of extra days for the staff to get to know the whole area,” Gallagher said.

Voters in Butte-Silver Bow County put the project in motion by passing the $7.2 million bond issue in June 2016. Another $1.5 million in public and private funds was raised for amenities such as the slides and lazy river.

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Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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