Jeff Buchenroth said he thinks a water park would create jobs for the community and provide a safe, local place for teenagers to hang out. He said his sons regularly go to Lexington, Nicholasville or Richmond when they want to do something with friends.
Others at the forum said they were interested in keeping people in Lancaster and Garrard County. A pool would be a step toward making the area attractive for residents and businesses, they said.
City Councilman Bret Baierlein said a water park could be something Lancaster and Garrard County are known for, which would generate a positive image of the area.
One resident raised his concern that as a seasonal attraction, a water park would have to "work twice as hard" to sustain itself.
Council members and a few in attendance pointed out that pools elsewhere have been very successful, in some cases even helping to fund other recreational facilities.
Baierlein pointed out that the recently constructed water park in Richmond had its party room booked a full year in advance before the park even opened.
David Land, who runs a tax service business in Lancaster, said pools are not profitable as private businesses, so it falls to government to provide that kind of recreational facility.
Baierlein and Lancaster Mayor Don Rinthen said the feasibility study being conducted by the city and county would ensure that any potential water park would be sustainable.
In May, Lancaster and Garrard County hired the consulting company Brandstetter Carroll to do a study on whether a water park would be feasible.
Brandstetter Carroll will be conducing a survey and analyzing the demographics of the area, what features it should have and where it should be located. Rinthen said the company's final presentation is expected around the end of July or beginning of August.
Another resident said she was concerned many in the county wouldn't be able to afford high admission fees to the park.
Baierlein said admission fees would hopefully be very low - about $4-$6, he estimated. And season passes would be available that could make it even cheaper, he said.
Brandstetter Carroll's study includes recommended admission prices designed to provide just enough money to cover the operation of the park, Baierlein said.
Residents also expressed a desire for a running track, which could potentially go around the outside of the water park.
Councilwoman Brenda Powers said she thinks a track is a good idea, especially since right now the only place for people to walk or run is the cemetery. Powers said she and the health department have both applied for grants for walking facilities, but have not received them. She suggested applying a third time.
Another issue discussed at the forum was where a park could be located.
One resident suggested the old stockyard land near downtown Lancaster. Rinthen said the only problem with that land is it doesn't leave any room for expansion.
Many at the forum agreed the park wouldn't have to be near downtown. Land said there are probably several good locations outside of the main downtown Lancaster area that still have sidewalk access.
Brandstetter Carroll will analyze several potential locations as part of its study.
Baierlein said if the feasibility study shows that a water park would be good idea, he will do everything in his power to find the funds needed to construct it.
City Councilman Chris Davis guessed that a water park would cost anywhere from $2 million to $4 million to construct.
"We want this to happen more than anything," Davis said. "It's gonna be a great opportunity for our community and our kids."