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Lathrop establishing rules for water parks
Jack Fields of Lathrop, a dog trainer and staff instructor with K9 Development, paces his friendly German shepherd at the Valverde Park water play area while city Parks Project Manager Nathan Houx, right, looks on. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
LATHROP — City of Lathrop has two state-of-the-art interactive water play areas that were completed last year.

To make sure both facilities provide safe environments for its citizens, the city wants to put in place a set of rules or “code of conduct” into its municipal ordinance so they can be enforced. Many of the rules were required and recommended by the San Joaquin County Health Department, especially in the case of the water park at Valverde where the water that comes out of the circular dancing fountains is re-circulated.

Children who are not toilet trained, for example, would be required to wear a swim diaper, while those under the age of 12 must be supervised at all times by a parent or by a caregiver age 16 or older. Good hygiene is also a must, with users being asked to shower first before they get into the water, and to wash their hands after using the restrooms or after changing their babies’ diapers.

Both water play areas will have similar posted rules, with the exception of a shower facility being available at Valverde Park. The other play area is located at the 40-acre Mossdale Community Park along Towne Centre Drive between City Hall and the San Joaquin River levee.

The Lathrop City Council will hold a public hearing to consider the proposed addition to the municipal code at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 21, in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 390 Towne Centre Drive at Mossdale Landing. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

There are no provisions about a water park in the municipal code because the city has never had that type of facility before.

Besides setting the rules, the proposal would also establish the water play areas’ days and hours of operation with Parks and Recreation as the department authorized to provide the oversight. The facilities would be open seven days a week between April 15 and Oct 15 under the proposal, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but that these dates could be made flexible depending on existing water conditions during any given year. The Parks and Recreation Department, for example, could open the parks earlier or extend its operation past Oct. 15 when the weather is unseasonably warm.

Like any code-enforced municipal rule, any violations to the code of conduct established for the water parks would be subject to penalties and fines.

While both water play areas are state-of-the-art in construction, the similarities end there.

The one at Mossdale is highlighted by a gigantic metal daisy flower and a replica of Lathrop’s old water tower that stood in a former pumpkin patch where the entrance to Woodfield Estates on Lathrop Road and Fifth Street is now located. The water that comes out is by manual operation, and drains into the city’s underground storm drain pipes.

The water at Valverde’s play area is completely automatic with the fountains shooting out from more than a dozen holes in the tiled surface controlled by pre-set and continuous time durations. Instead of draining into underground pipes though, the water goes back into the 4,000-gallon reservoir or tank built underground.

“It’s basically a pool except it is underground instead of above ground,” explained city parks project manager Nathan Houx.

Just like an ordinary pool, the water is monitored everyday for ph levels and is chlorinated regularly, he said.

The same set up could not be done to the water park at Mossdale because the underground water table there is high, Houx explained.

The water park at Valverde was constructed last year as part of the park’s $3.4 million expansion and facelift that was completed in November. The other new features located next to the water park include the city’s long-awaited Veterans Memorial Monument, a rose garden, a full bocce ball court, meandering walkways lined by evergreen trees and dotted with benches, and new-and-improved basketball courts.

Below are the proposed rules for both water play areas to be added into the Lathrop Municipal Code Chapter 12.22:

•Children who are not toilet trained must wear a swim diaper.

•Children age 11 years and younger must be supervised by a parent and/or caregiver age 16 or older at all times.

•Practice good hygiene by showering before using this facility and washing your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers. At Valverde Park, there is an outdoor shower behind the restroom building for this purpose. There is no shower facility available at Mossdale Community Park.

•No person having an infectious disease or open sore shall enter the water play facility.

The following are not allowed in the water play areas:

•Glass containers.

•Cleaning or other chemical substances.


•Bathing or clothes washing.

•Smoking within 25 feet or water play area.

•Running, pushing or rough play.

•Using skateboards, skates, scooters and bicycles.

Anyone with questions or concerns can call (209) 941-7360 during regular business hours; after hours, call (209) 992-0028. In cases of emergency, call  911.