With his first 100 days on the job behind him, new Hilliard Parks and Recreation Director Steve Mazer is still a little wet behind the ears -- and he doesn't mind that at all.
When he took over the city's parks and recreation department just over three months ago Mazer inherited a $4.5-million gem in the new Hilliard Family Aquatics Center.
Prior to John Brennan's departure as Hilliard's parks and recreation director, and Mazer's arrival, Mayor Don Schonhardt's administration spearheaded a drive to pump new life into the ageing, municipal swimming pool, transforming it into a water wonderland, where Mazer proudly points out it is virtually impossible to stay dry.
"The comments have been very positive from the people," Mazer said. "They like what they see and they have a good time when they are at the pool."
Mazer gauges that popularity by the number of visitors who have flocked to the Aquatics Center since its May 24 grand opening. During a 10-day period that began May 24, Mazer said nearly 16,000 people visited the new facility.
"It has been amazing," he said. "You look out here and the number of cars in the parking lot is just amazing."
The city officially unveiled Phase II of the pool renovation project in late May. Among the improvements are a 563-foot lazy river tube ride and a new interactive play area for children.
"The thing from the moms and dads that we are really getting positive feedback on is that interactive pool with all the water features," Mazer said. "And we have so many lifeguards now. So, the children are well supervised."
Mazer said the total lifeguard staff for the new facility has grown to 150 with as many as 40 to 50 guards on duty at the same time."Mazer said many residents were curious about the facility when it opened.
"The first few days we had a lot of non-members buying daily passes," he said. "I think the non-members heard about the new Aquatic Center and wanted to come see it. Since the opening we have had a steady flow of people not only purchasing pool passes but signing up for swim lessons and summer programs."
He said the new facility has also attracted the attention of other central Ohio communities. "I have heard from other suburbs and this has raised the bar for other suburbs," he said. "Other communities are very interested in our facility."
Mazer was quick to praise the aquatics center staff for the successful launch of the new facility.
"The staff here is very good," he said. "They're experienced. They know what they are doing. They run the operations very, very well."