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  • Last modified 38 days ago (Aug. 17, 2017)

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Making a splash?

What will they think of next?

As a kid, I remember many a time when my sisters and I pulled on our swimsuits and dashed out into the yard to run through lawn sprinklers. It didn’t matter what kind of sprinklers they were, it was just plain fun to run around in mist and drops.

Other folks must remember those days, too, because Monday’s city council agenda included discussion of building a splash pad.

What’s a splash pad, you may wonder? Well, just think of it as a bunch of oversized colorful sprinklers, some spraying up, others raining down. The underlying principle is the same, as are the gleeful smiles of kids cavorting in them.

When I lived in Spokane, Washington, we had a fabulous one in Riverfront Park, a fantastic stainless steel art installation with 150 jets spraying up, down, and all around. Kids loved playing in it, and adults, too. I once hopped in fully clothed because I simply couldn’t resist.

Today, 12 years after it opened at a cost of $1.25 million, the only splash it’s making is the $1 million price tag for getting it running again. Mechanical and electrical problems have turned it into, well, just a fancy rusting sculpture.

No one wants anything so elaborate for Marion, but even a basic commercial-grade setup would cost an estimated $65,000. That’s a lot of money compared to $35 for a decent hose and sprinkler.

The idea of a splash pad probably sprung from trips somebody took to a water park in another town. They’re fun, no doubt, but should we put any public money into something that’s purely entertainment?

Thankfully, the preliminary answer at council meeting was no. A private fundraising campaign is more appropriate and the financing vehicle of choice, at least initially. If the need and desire for a splash pad in a town of 1,900 is there, people will come up with the money.

They didn’t come up with enough for a proposed theater. They did for the restrooms and stage in Central Park. One was for entertainment, the other for the most basic of needs.

As for a splash pad? Go ahead, put it to the same fundraising test, and if the idea is worth its salt, it’ll make a big splash in more ways than one. Just leave our tax dollars out of it.

— david colburn

Last modified Aug. 17, 2017

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