Just Add Water! Creating Opportunities for Waterfront Recreation

Communities are taking advantage of their waterfront resources to bring more recreation opportunities to their citizens. In the March issue of Recreation Management, Dave Ramon spoke to industry leaders, including Ron Romens, president of CRS, for his insights (article excerpt follows):

Ron Romens is president of the Wisconsin-based firm that custom-designed the Grapevine waterpark. They specialize in products and services for the waterfront industry, including planning, design, installation, training and operational support. And while Romens’ company often works with camps, campgrounds, resorts and RV parks, he described how more municipalities are coming to them, looking to enhance under-utilized bodies of water in their communities. “It brings more people to the area and adds life to the local businesses when you’re putting in some type of active recreation. Those types of things are driving economics through the summer.”

Romens explained that there’s an education process when they receive inquiries from communities. “They give you a picture, but we bring them back to the beginning and say: Do you have a body of water? How is it being used? What are the outcomes that you’re after? Because there are deep-water activity zones, shallow-water activity zones, active recreation and passive recreation, and appealing to different demographics, from toddlers and teenagers up to parents and grandparents. So we’re educating them on the design criteria, safe installation and safe operation before we’re even talking about products.”

“You’re really creating an environment,” Romens added. “So the shade, the seating, the trash, circulation patterns… If it’s going to be monetized, how are you going to move people through and sell tickets, and monitor it with lifeguards and life jackets? Do you need ice cream or food trucks or other businesses to support the activity that you’re creating?”

For those looking to achieve an aqua park or waterpark-style destination, there are a myriad of floating and inflatable amenities available, as well as climbing walls, rolling logs and so much more. And Romens points out that stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and pedal boats make excellent rentals. “Activity breeds activity, and paddle sports—and all boats—are very much impulse-driven. But it’s important when you’re designing the area how you set up access: how those rentals and activities are set up in proximity to the rest of the site—food and beverage, swimming beach, active deep zones, etc.”

Floating, modular dock systems can be strategically incorporated, according to Romens, without having to be permanent, in case a waterfront area changes. “You can have your kayak and paddleboard launch, swim platforms and a fishing pier. And you can place them in different configurations to create different use zones in future years as well.”

Read the full article at Recreation Management.