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Splash pad needs a stream of revenue

Staff writer

As students trickle back to school, PRIDE committee member Pam Byer envisions a summer when they will have a splash pad in Central Park to play in.

Her idea came from seeing similar structures in other towns, including El Dorado, the state fair in Hutchinson, Exploration Place in Manhattan, and Old Town in Wichita.

“I’ve just seen some of them, and they’re just delightful,” Byer said. “When I’ve observed people in the park on hot days, it would just be so nice to get wet. I think it would enhance the park.”

Byer said she has talked members of PRIDE and Mothers of Preschoolers.

“They are really excited for it,” Byer said.

Monday’s city council packet listed a commercial-grade splash pad as costing between $65,000 and $500,000, and a residential-grade splash pad between $15,000 and $35,000.

“I figured we’d just do private fundraising and not look at grants, because that’s what we did with the restroom project,” Byer said.

If the splash pad were paid primarily through private funds, the city would cover yearly operational and maintenance costs.

The packet’s cost paragraph was copied from the SplashPads USA website. It lists monthly costs of running for six to eight hours a day as $20 to $40, but does not specify if that is for commercial or residential.

City administrator Roger Holter said he doesn’t think a residential-grade splash pad is possible. The city’s liability insurance could be expanded to cover a splash pad, but the premium is unknown.

SplashPads USA lists a small splash pad as a 10-20 foot concrete pad with spray nozzles. More nozzles and a larger pad cost more, as do above-ground features and fiber optic water lighting.

“The design that I’d like to see is just the flat (ground) with random jets of water coming up, and I’m hoping that won’t be as pricey as the ones that have buckets of water that dump,” Byer said.

There was no estimate for yearly operation or maintenance costs.

Byer said a splash pad is at least a couple years away, and involvement by Marion Advancement Campaign could make the project tax deductible.

A design that puts the splash pad flush with the ground would allow water to be turned off and events to set up on top of it.

“It won’t hinder Art in the Park or Chingawassa Days,” Byer said.

The city has not determined a location, but Byer said a likely spot is the sunny, open area behind the bathrooms in Central Park.

“You have to consider water lines and access to water and electricity,” she said.

The city council directed Byer to continue exploring a potential splash pad, then brought it up again in a discussion on the troublesome Central Park fountain. The antique structure and surrounding pond have had maintenance issues.

Parks and recreation director Margo Yates said people should not play in the fountain’s water.

“We need the families and animals to stay out,” she said. “It’s really not healthy anyway because it’s chlorine-treated pretty highly to keep the algae out.”

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt suggested incorporating the fountain into a splash pad.

“One of the ideas that made sense to me is keeping the fountain where it’s at but getting rid of the actual pond part — because that’s our problem — and using that fountain in a splash park.”

Last modified Aug. 19, 2017

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