SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — The Scottsboro Parks and Recreation department received a complaint about their splash pad this week, after two years of no problems.
Gerald Barnes said a clogged and overflowing toilet ruined his son’s birthday party, and he is not satisfied with the park’s offer to reschedule another party to rectify the situation.
Barnes said he was hoping for an evening full of water fun at the splash pad, and paid $120 to reserve one of the two pavilions from 7-9 p.m. Saturday. The required rental agreement states no refunds will be given in the event of a cancellation.
There were thunderstorms Saturday night, and Barnes said staff had them take shelter.
“They had told me originally when it first started raining and started thundering. They told me it was going to have to close the pad itself for about 20 minutes to see if it ceased. If it quit lightning or quit thundering they could open it back up,” Barnes said.
“It quit thundering, quit raining, and then the lightning started. They never come to me. [The lifeguards] kept sitting there. [We were] still doing our thing underneath the pavilion and about 45 minutes after it started, so around 745, that is when the toilet started overflowing and they came out there and said we got a problem. Toilets are overflowing.”
Water came from the bathroom on the opposite side of the picnic tables from the splash pad, and says the lifeguards told them they had to leave. Barnes claims the splash pad and pavilion have poor drainage and said the storms flooded the area with sewage.
Parks and Recreation director Yvonne Yockel said that is not the case.
“It had nothing to do with the rain, it was just two parties here with lots of babies going to the bathroom and you just put something in there that doesn’t need to be in there. I think we had one incident last year. It just happens when you’ve got children around,” she said.
There were four parties at the pavilion Saturday prior to Barnes’s event, as well as public guests during the day, and there was another party going on at the same time as his.
Yockel said her staff promptly hosed off the area where the toilet flooded, and used bleach to disinfect the pavilion. She said there are no drainage issues at the splash pad.
“It did not get on the splash pad. It was only on the pavilion, and it was cleaned up immediately. He stayed here even after the fact, knowing that it was there, and obviously didn’t feel that he was in imminent danger or his children were in danger,” she said.
“We also had another party at the time and they totally understand the process. And no, [Barnes] didn’t get to do his splash pad party, but it was because of lightning and had nothing to do with the restroom issue,” she said.
Barnes maintains the cancellation of the party was because of the toilets. He wants a refund, but the park is offering him the possibility of having another party at another time.
“Why would I want to reschedule at a place that the toilet had already overflowed once and take a chance of my kids or the rest of the people there possibly coming in contact with some E Coli?,” he said. “If they are going to require a reschedule, they need to change their form that says if it’s canceled, due to lightning, weather, anything, if it has to be stopped or changed then they need to give you the option of a reschedule or a refund.”
Yockel says the toilets overflowed one time last year, and in both instances they used bleach to sanitize the area. WHNT News 19 sampled the water of splash pads across the Tennessee Valley in 2011 and in 2012, and Scottsboro’s tests all came back clean.
“We pride ourselves in taking extra care that this facility is taken care of properly. We check our chemicals every 2 hours to ensure that the chemicals are where they’re supposed to be and that the children are safe,” Yockel said.
The Jackson County Health Department said Barnes is the first person to report an issue with the Scottsboro splash pad, and they have not found anything wrong with the facilities.