More than 400 people to lose their jobs as COVID-19 impacts local water parks

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's June and over 100 degrees. Normally this would make for a busy day at the Island Water Park in Fresno, but instead, it's barren and as dry as a bone.

"It is a sad feeling to walk through here and not see everybody screaming and playing and running around," says General Manager Bob Martin.

On Wednesday, park officials made the decision to keep the park closed through the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.

Martin says physical distancing would be difficult to enforce and reducing capacity to 50% or less would result in a loss in profit.

It also means eliminating 400 plus jobs.

"It was about a four-month decision and we went back and forth and back and forth, seems like 100 times," says Martin.

The park has also had to put a halt to all improvement projects.

This year they have already spent half a million dollars to replace old slides that will now remain unused this summer.

Martin says they intended on adding a new one, but that will now have to wait 2-5 years.

"We were hoping in 2021, 2022, to put some really spectacular slide you could see off the freeway," says Martin.

Meanwhile, Wild Water Adventure Park in Fresno County is moving forward with plans to reopen.

They have implemented various measures to keep customers safe, including a new registration system that must be used to access the park.

"A person in public will be safer here than a movie theater or a gymnasium in terms of sanitizing," says the park's owner Kathy Siggers.

This Friday, park officials will meet with the health department to demo their opening plan.

Siggers is positive they will be given the green light.

"We feel like we have done everything humanly possible to minimize any risk of exposure," she says.

Despite staying closed, Martin says the Island Water Park will survive and they're currently working on 10 different reopening plans for next year.

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