Old swimmin’ hole makes comeback: City turns Boilers into public park

Construction has begun to turn the Boilers into a public park, Washington, Utah, Jan. 2, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Anyone driving past Washington City’s Warm Spring, also known as the Boilers, may have noticed some drastic changes there these past two weeks.

“Right now, it looks like it’s something under construction, which it is,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said.

The week before Christmas, Washington City work crews took down the fence that has surrounded the Boilers for the past 15 years and began clearing vegetation and moving soil with heavy equipment.

The Boilers property after construction has begun, Washington, Utah, December 2014 | Photo by Jim Speth, St. George News
The Boilers property after construction begins, Washington, Utah, December 2014 | Photo used by permission of Jim Speth, St. George News

The property currently looks rough, Neilson said, but that will change soon.

The Boilers, located just north of Interstate 15 at approximately 200 W. Buena Vista Blvd., has gotten much public attention since 2012, when a nonprofit group undertook a mission to preserve the natural warm spring-fed pond, with its accompanying rich heritage that extends back to usage by Native Americans and pioneer settlers in Southern Utah.

The Boiling Springs Ecoseum & Desert Preserve nonprofit group has campaigned and fundraised to create a conservatory and botanical gardens at the Boilers site, as well as to clean up and preserve the Boilers, which has been locked behind a chain-link fence since the 1990s.

Washington City, however, is now pursuing its own plans for the Boilers.

“We just decided as a council and the mayor to just move forward with it,” Neilson said.

A city park will soon take shape at the Boilers, Neilson said, complete with grass, new vegetation and picnic tables. The pond itself will be open once more for community members to swim, wade and play in, as they did for generations before the site was fenced off.

“We’re not closing it off; we’re opening it up,” Neilson said. “If you want to go do a cannonball, do a cannonball.”

Naturally fed artesian style by three warm springs, the Boilers stays at a temperature in the 70-degree range throughout the year, Neilson said. He used to swim there during the winter months as a child, he said. Soon, a new generation of children will enjoy the warm water that “boils” up through the sand at the bottom of the Boilers.

The park is slated to open sometime in February.

“We’re just opening it up and letting people enjoy it again, and I think that would be just wonderful,” Neilson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“It’s been on our docket for several years to put a park there,” he added.

Construction has begun to turn the Boilers into a public park, Washington, Utah, Jan. 2, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Construction has begun to turn the Boilers into a public park, Washington, Utah, Jan. 2, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Neilson said the park plans won’t affect those who utilize water from the Boilers for irrigating – including some of his own relatives.

“The people that use it now … downstream for their irrigation, they’re not going to lose any water at all,” he said.

On the contrary, Nielson anticipates the work being done preparatory to the park’s opening will actually improve and increase the water’s flow.

The Boilers was fenced off, in part, because, with the advent of city pools to swim in, families were using the Boilers less and less, Nielson said, while partiers were using it more and more for late-night drinking and drug use. At the time, Washington City didn’t have its own police force but relied on the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to patrol the town, he said, which was another factor in the decision to close the Boilers to the public – the city had no means to patrol the area and keep the party environment at bay.

Today, Washington City not only has its own police force to help ensure the Boilers is kept clean and is used in wholesome ways, but a fire station is located very near the site, which will also provide an authoritative presence to keep watch over the property.

The Boiling Springs Ecoseum group had planned to finalize its development agreement with the city this month, which would have allowed the group to move forward with its vision for the site. Though the city has now undertaken its own plans at the property, Nielson said they are still interested in working with the Ecoseum group and entertaining the group’s proposal to construct a convention center and walking trails and to implement educational elements at the site.

“I think all along it should’ve been a partnership,” Nielson said.

Nicole Warner, director of the Boiling Springs Ecoseum & Desert Preserve nonprofit organization, said:

We are pleased that the city (is) taking an interest in the site and we look forward to seeing their plans and how we can work together to restore something that’s been iconic in our community.

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14 Comments

  • Melda January 3, 2015 at 7:34 am

    How exciting! The only draw back in my opinion is I-15 roaring 10 feet above your head. I will frequent this park. My biggest concern would be people littering in the boilers and/or harming the creatures that live in and or around it.

    • Hitek January 3, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      And careful where you walk and sit with all the junkies leaving their needles and other paraphernalia around. But it will be another good to go and collect beer bottles and beer cans that will be thrown everywhere

  • Billy Madison January 3, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I’m very glad to see this. The Boilers will again be a very popular spot for young and old. However, I’m Leary of how long it will be open until some politician decides to fence it again, put in a guard shack, and charge admission. At least Washington City will allow someone to bring a boom box and do a little dancing.

    • Hitek January 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Forget it all they did is come up with another place for drug dealers and junkies to do business

  • Lucy Ormond January 3, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Please leave the park as natural as possible to insure that bushes and trees are left for birds that frequent the area now. Love the idea of having access to this historic site.

  • el jefe January 3, 2015 at 10:24 am

    70° water?? Perfect skinny dipping temp.

  • Paul Jensen January 3, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Glad to see the city doing something with it and not turning it over to a private interest.
    CANNONBALL!!!

  • Travas Walker January 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    This makes me happy, I spent many a day there as a young pup!
    We rode or horses there to swim.
    Sure miss the good old days.

    • Hitek January 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      LOL you can have the so called good old days take forever to get anything done or get anywhere. No thanks I’ll take my high tech and better medical services and better living conditions and living longer and healthier modern ways over your so called. Good old days any time

  • Travas Walker January 4, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I live in Seattle, you can keep your high tech.

    • Evil twins mommy January 4, 2015 at 1:04 am

      You can stay in Seattle for all I care

  • Evil twins mommy January 4, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Seattle Washington LOL suicide capital of America

  • Youtawbob January 4, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Hey TRAVIS I see you enjoy using high tech so you can travel the Internet and visit sights like this well you can keep your high tech because you used it to comment here… That makes you sounds like an idiot… and by the way your living in the suicide capital of America as posted in another commen. Good. Choice….. LOL

  • Frank G Staheli January 12, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    I have great memories of the Boilers from the 1960’s and 70’s DESPITE that being the place where I got my worst sunburn ever! 😉

    I’m excited to see it being rejuvenated.

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