Hartsville water park’s sophomore season a splash

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Only a month into its second season, Hartsville’s Neptune Island Water Park is already making waves with robust attendance and improved customer service.

At the July 9 meeting of Hartsville City Council, finance director Karen Caulder updated council members on the park’s performance since the May 18 opening day.

“As of June 30, we had over 32,000 visitors to the park,” said Caulder. “We have sold a total of 3,827 season passes … (and) cabana rentals have already surpassed the total sales for last year.”

While much of the traffic comes from local residents, the park is pulling more tour buses and groups this year, including a group of 300 from Woodmen of the World.

Mayor Mel Pennington commented that the physical improvements – such as the expanded bar and an elevated viewing bridge that allows guests to see the park better – have helped enhance the guest experience.

Neptune Island’s online profile is growing as well. Caulder said that for 2018, the park’s website drew just over 115,000 visitors; so far this year, the site has over 162,000 unique visitors. This online reach is helping pull domestic guests from as far away as Alaska. Data on international guests is forthcoming.

Local promotions have helped spread the word about Neptune Island, including a program where school kids who made the A/B honor roll could bring their report card during the month of June and receive a free admission. Caulder said 1,156 kids took advantage of this offer. She noted that teachers were very enthused about repeating the program next summer, citing the added incentive it gives students.

A promotion where Neptune Island coupons are printed on locally distributed Pepsi products (from the Cheraw bottling plant) has shown success, and a $3 admission discount is available to members of the YMCA of the Upper Pee Dee.
Special events are helping draw guests to group swimming lessons, Boy Scout and Girl Scout days, Twilight Tuesdays (with discounted admission from 3 to 7 p.m. through August 13), and Mermaid Mondays (where kids can interact and take pics with ‘mermaid’ staffers).

Caulder added that park employee morale, performance, and retention has improved. Neptune Island employs 130 young people, mostly between the ages of 16 and 19, and they have completed customer service workshops to help them provide faster assistance and deal with guest issues.

To see ticket prices and park hours for Neptune Island, visit them online at neptuneisland.com.

On the meeting’s regular agenda, Resolution 07-19-01 passed without objection, approving a lease-purchase finance arrangement of up to $350,000 for various equipment. Listed items include a camera trailer for the Neptune Island Water Park, a sanitation truck, and a truck for the Hartsville Fire Department.

Council passed Resolution 07-19-02, approving the use of $132,500 as matching funds for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant from the SC Department of Commerce. This match amount is included in the city’s 2019/2020 fiscal year budget.

The city plans to use this CDBG money to make sewer improvements in the South Hartsville area.

Resolution 07-19-03 also received approval, clearing the use of $120,000 to $130,000 to refurbish a commercial garbage truck. According to the resolution, the need for a reliable truck has become urgent: “The back up garbage truck is in terrible condition and we need a newer truck for commercial service…There have been times where our sanitation team has had to dumpster dive to maintain service due to the status of our vehicles.”

Blue Sky Refurbishing of Gainesville, Georgia won the bid, and their proposal includes refurbishing the city’s 2012 Mack front loader and replacing the Wayne body. The work should take approximately 90 days to complete.

Author: Rachel Howell

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