Independence imposes residency requirement for water park

By The Examiner staff

On perhaps the warmest day of the year Friday, Independence’s Adventure Oasis Water Park’s gates were closed. 

The city closed the park to implement a new city residency requirement for admission, one meant to alleviate capacity issues and ward off potential crowd confrontations. 

Adventure Oasis reopens Saturday.

The water park, at 2100 Hub Drive near Missouri 291 and 23rd Street, is slated to reopen Saturday, and those who buy single-day tickets or punch passes will be required to show proof of residency, including a valid ID such as a driver’s license or school-issued ID. Those living outside of Independence who have previously bought season passes will also be admitted. Current punch-pass holders will be allowed to use the remainder of their visits.  

For the rest of the 2021 season, single-day tickets, punch passes, and season passes will only be sold to Independence residents. The city did not have a prior residency requirement. 

City Manager Zach Walker did not know if the residency requirement will remain beyond 2021. He said some overcrowding stemmed from other municipal pools in the metro area not yet reopening. 

“We’ll evaluate and see where it goes,” he said. “We hope that it’s not a permanent change.” 

Before Thursday, the city said in a release, Adventure Oasis has been at capacity attendance 11 of the 13 days it has been open, leading to staffing and capacity challenges, long wait times to get in – sometimes 1 1/2 hours – and parking issues. 

The city said the water park has had a discipline or security issue nearly every day since it opened this year. Walker said there have been some verbal and some physical confrontations, and the city hopes that be alleviating some overcrowding, they can avoid future confrontations and even incidents of retaliation. 

“You see a problem that’s building more and more,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent something where somebody comes back the next day and causes problems.” 

Seasonal pool jobs are popular for teenagers in many places, Walker added, and the city didn’t want to be asking too much of them and create a large staffing issue there. 

“We don’t ask them or expect them to be law enforcement,” he said. 

Walker said the city also wants to avoid straining the Police Department, similar to what they’ve faced at times with the Independence Center mall. 

“I think we’ve learned some lessons there,” he said. “We don’t want this to be some place that becomes a larger police presence.” 

Adventure Oasis is open 12 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4. Twilight ticket sales have been discontinued until further notice.