After a brief hiatus while the city finalized the new playground equipment and prepared for the summer events, the city is back on the trail towards a splash pad. The city proposed a splash pad to residents last year after discussions with a number of residents in the county as well as visits to splash pads in other cities. Morgan City is making this a community project and planning to primarily fund the construction of the splash pad with donated funds, material, and labor from local businesses and residents. The city feels confident that they can raise the funds required.
Parent and grandparent committees have already been established to move the Splash pad project forward. Once the Splash pad project has been approved by the City Council, the parent and grandparent committees, with the help of the City Council, will then be in charge of raising the amount of money needed to finance the Splash pad through grants from foundations, donations from local businesses and organizations, and contributions from interested friends and families through money gifts and in-kind donations. As for the water and ongoing operating and maintenance costs, per the Morgan City water and sewer department, water supplies and sewer capacities are adequate at this time to support a flow through system. The responsibility for the operating and maintenance of the Splash pad will belong to Morgan City’s Park Department.
Councilmember Shelly Betz commented on the splash pad saying, “Parks and Recreation studies show that as the economy slows, use of public facilities increases dramatically. For example, even in light of the economy, public recreation centers are being used more now than ever before. Salt Lake County has reported the highest community memberships in history. Youth community sporting programs are up 40% from just 3 years ago. What does all this mean? People don’t have the expendable income to travel and go on vacation to outside destinations. Families stay closer to home and get deeper involved in what their community has to offer. This all adds up to the perfect time to provide residents with new city amenities due to the increased need for affordable activities the whole family can enjoy. If done right, a Splash pad will be the most used city offering during the summer months. Also, other people from neighboring cities such as Wanship, Coalville and Henefer will travel to Morgan just to use the splash pad thus bringing additional tax and sales revenue which helps to support local business efforts. “
Splash pads are aquatic playgrounds designed with children’s safety in mind, that feature different areas of interactive water elements and play experiences. Splash pads are different from pools in that they have zero depth standing water so the need for lifeguards is eliminated since there is little risk of drowning. The Splash pad floor features textured non-slip concrete for added safety. There are no pinch points or exposed bolts as found on traditional playground equipment. Some of the water activities that can be included in a Splash pad range from a simple water nozzles that spray water into the air, to a rainbow, a mushroom shower or a series of buckets a few feet off the ground that fill with water and dump at various times to the delight of older children beneath them. Splash pads can be designed to feature play experiences for children of all developmental levels, including a discovery area for toddlers and young children, an exploration area for elementary age children, and a high energy area for group play.
Splash pads are designed to appeal to users of all age groups and abilities and each Splash pad features many types of play and activities that require different levels of development and skills. Water is the attraction, however. Betz, quoting from one of the design guidebooks added, “The intrinsic relationship that children have with water is undeniable. Whether it’s a toddler playing in a puddle, a family running through a lawn sprinkler on a hot summer day, or a group of teens waging a water fight with a garden hose, water is an endless source of play and fascination for children” There are approximately 2,400 children between the ages of 1 – 14 that would benefit from the splash pad in Morgan County.
The splash pad also has benefits for children with disabilities and special needs. Splash pads are ADA compliant, and a Splash pad experience may have additional physical, psychological, social, and cognitive benefits for children with different types of challenges or disabilities. It has been shown that water activities have calming effects on many children with Autism who experience sensory difficulties. ADHD now affects 5 to 7 percent of children, which means that 1 or 2 children per school classroom may be diagnosed with the disorder. Water play in the safety of a Splash pad environment could be beneficial to children with challenges or disabilities as they are designed with various types of water activities based on skill, development, and learning. Each Splash pad is designed as a sensory experience for every child and children with physical, mental, and emotional challenges may especially benefit from its fun, safe water play.
The cost of a Splash pad varies depending on its size and the number and type of water features installed. The South Ogden Splash pad for a 45’ x 45’ pad with 11 features was approximately $145,000. Vernal installed a 60’ x 70’ pad with 8 features for around $90,000. Hyrum’s Water Spray Park with 20 in-ground water sprays was installed for just under $50,000. The initial cost is determined by the pad size, the number of water activities on the Splash pad, and the type of water system used.
The city will shortly begin working with the community to organize fund raising activities. All contributions and donations are tax deductible and can be made at the Morgan City Offices. Please make checks out to Riverside Park Improvements. The city council hopes to be able to begin construction in the spring of next year to have the splash pad operating by summer of 2012.