While some might gasp at the mention of an unsupervised, 50-year-old lion let loose in a park, for Valley Streamers it’s no big deal.
The Arthur J. Hendrickson Park pool has undergone several renovations since it was built in 1961, but one feature has endured for 5½ decades: the 4-foot-tall children’s water fountain shaped like a lion.
“If we got rid of that,” Mayor Ed Fare said, “everyone would go nuts.”
To ensure that the fountain is prepared for each summer season, Robert Abrams, the senior maintenance specialist for the pool, makes sure it is repainted and refurbished. It doesn’t take a lot of work to keep it running, however. “It’s basically just re-plugging it in,” Abrams said.
That minimal maintenance is clearly worth the effort, because the fountain continues to get compliments. “It’s cute for the kids,” said Dana Harden-Butts, who was dipping her feet in the interactive pool with her son on June 30. “It reminds you of an amusement park or a water park kind of thing.”
The pool complex features an interactive pool with water dripping from overhead poles, an Olympic-size pool and a pool for young children. There is also a tiki lounge with concessions, and a gift shop that sells Valley Stream pool T-shirts and sweaters.
Members can trade breaststrokes for golf strokes on the mini-golf course behind the pool, and there’s also bocce and chess as well as bike paths. “You always feel like you’re on vacation, ’cause there’s so much to do,” said Fran Casey.
According to Village Treasurer Michael Fox, the interactive pool was added in 1998, the main pool was upgraded in 2005, and the interactive and wading pools were resurfaced a week before the complex opened for the season.
For Joe Casey, a regular at the pool, the lion water fountain, in particular, is a reminder of his childhood.
For a woman who identified herself only as Christa, the fountain is a reminder of when she used to come to the pool in the 1960s with her young children. “I tell my kids all the time that that lion is still there,” she said.
Village residents pay $265 for a family membership for the summer. Residents who have a family member in the Fire Department, the Auxiliary Police, the Civilian Patrol or the U.S. Army pay $135. Those who live in the Central High School District pay $420, or a service-discounted $215. Children who do not have a membership but are accompanied by a pool member can go for a swim for $10, and non-member adults can do so for $13.