After delay, Camden water park makes a splash [photos]

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    It wasn’t the smoothest launch, but the water park inside Camden’s Kroc Center finally has splashdown.

    The center surrounding the park opened in October after nearly a decade of planning and construction.

    The water park took longer due to pending inspections, and what Major Paul Cain, the center’s administrator, called “bureaucratic hoops.” Center staff jumped through the last of those hoops Friday, meaning the $90 million facility now has its “centerpiece,” Cain said.

    The Salvation Army, which runs the facility, built the Kroc Center and 25 others like it with money from benefactor Joan Kroc. Camden’s 120,000-square-foot center features a gymnasium, a competition swimming pool, outdoor athletic fields, and a technology center. But it’s the water park that encapsulates the family-centric spirit Salvation Army wants its new center to project.

    “Granparents, moms and dads, kids, aunts and uncles, they can all come here and play,” Cain said. “There’s something for everbody here.”

    In addition to a slide — whose final inspection came Friday — the water park features clanking splash buckets, spurting fountains, and a large, colorful elephant that presides over the room. Its much-anticipated christening is another dose of good news for Camden.

    Earlier this month, Subaru announced it would relocate its American headquarters to Camden in exchange for a massive tax break. Lockheed Martin and the Philadelphia 76ers also moved facilities to Camden this year under similar circumstances.

    Those maneuvers should be a business boon for the long-struggling city, Cain said, but projects like the Kroc Center will improve day-to-day life for the many who suffered through Camden’s leanest years.

    “This is a project that’s really geared toward the people that live here every day,” said Cain. “This center was built and designed for the quality of life of the people. [We’re] building human capital here in the city.”

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