INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — After being cooped up for a year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, families are flocking to public pools like Independence's Adventure Oasis Water Park on what are some of hottest days the Kansas City metro has experienced in years.
But city leaders said they've seen a record-breaking number of people in the first two-weeks the park has been open. Some days, there was an hour-and-a-half wait to enter the facility.
The city also said staff dealt with troublemakers almost every day.
Starting Saturday, staff will check proof of residency, as only Independence residents will be allowed into the waterpark.
But students who attend the Independence, Blue Springs, Fort Osage or Raytown school districts will still have access.
The only exception is for those who don't live within city limits who have purchased season passes already.
"Maybe that might keep it down to where, you know, they can remain open," Stephanie Myers, an Independence resident visiting the water park said Thursday. "And you know, they don't have to have such a crowd issue to where security is needed."
Adventure Oasis won't open Friday in order to train staff on the new operating procedures.
"I mean, that's not fair to everybody, because we're not the ones that are acting up and stuff," Chelsey Roettgen, who visited the pool Thursday, said.
Roettgen lives in Kansas City, Missouri, but traveled to Independence because the pool closest to her is closed.
KCMO Parks & Recreation said several of their pools didn't open for a variety reasons – some mechanical; others have leaks or need gutter work.
"A lot of this was, you know, we're talking the week before, two weeks before opening day when you're really fully operational and running through your paces that you find some of these issues," Roosevelt Lyons, deputy director for KCMO Parks and Recreation, said.
And at Grove Park Pool, vandals targeted the bathhouse.
"It looked like somebody had taken a sledgehammer to all the urinals and toilet fixtures, there was actually a hole that was cut in the wall," Lyons said.
He said they might have to replace the whole building. In the meantime, the department urges people not to take a dip in the city's fountains.
"It’s not safe for kids or families to swim in those fountains," Lyons said. "Obviously, there's no lifeguard, you know. They don't get the same chemical for filtration that a pool does. So we really want to strongly encourage people to stay out of the fountains."
But with triple-digit heat expected Friday, many aren't venturing out.
"We might stay in tomorrow; stay in the air conditioning," Christina Bleess, another pool visitor, said.