Swimsuits, sunscreen, inner tubes and a 1,000-foot-long slip-n-slide on East Washington Avenue? Maybe.
A fledgling Utah company is seeking city permission to close four blocks of the thoroughfare between Webster and Blair streets to install a waterslide the length of three football fields as part of a one-day “Slide the City” event offering rides, beverages, food, DJ music and dancing this summer.
The event, which could draw an estimated 5,000 people paying from $15 for a single ride to about $50 to use the multi-lane, inflatable, temporary slide all day, would also benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Madison, sponsors said.
“Madison is a great place. It’s a happening place, especially with the university,” Slide the City event director Scott Ward said. “The hill with the Capitol in the background, what an iconic picture.”
Like other places the company has approached, Madison is trying to figure out how to handle the unusual request, with concerns about traffic, bus service, parking, safety, health and more, city event and street use coordinator Kelli Lamberty said.
“This is a very unusual request,” she said. “It’s unique to us. Using a street for a giant slip-n-slide is an original idea. There’s a lot to be explained.”
The city’s Street Use Staff Commission, which decides such applications, is scheduled to discuss the request at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Slide the City has not decided if it will seek a permit to sell beer and wine, which would require Alcohol License Review Committee and City Council approval.
The state Department of Health Services is still figuring out how to permit the event, Ward said.
The company, about a year old, held its first events last year in Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho, Ward said. It hopes to do about 130 events in North America this year. Its first event of 2015 was held in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The concept has caused concerns, largely about street closings, parking, safety and health. The company has been unable to get permits in California due to concern about water use amid a drought, but Slide the City is offering to bring in water, Ward said.
In West Palm Beach, some complained that the gradual slope made it hard for sliders to get momentum, according to media accounts.
The slope of East Washington Avenue, “will be a fantastic ride, but it’s not going to be dangerous,” Ward said.
Slide the City initially sought to hold the event on a Friday and Saturday, but the city has expressed opposition to closing the thoroughfare those days so the company is now looking for a Sunday this summer.
The slide requires 12,000 to 16,000 gallons of water, which would be treated with chlorine and be recirculated throughout the day. The slide would empty into a 20-by-40-foot pool. The street would be closed to vehicle traffic but with access to driveways and fire lanes. Storefronts would be open.
“We’ll have a lot of questions,” Lamberty said. “Is it feasible? Is it reasonable? Is this the way we want our streets used?”