City Mayor Jim Egbert and Council Members Shelly Betz and Tony London appeared before the county on Tuesday. The city has been raising funds for more than a year and has raised more than $66,000 from county residents and businesses to date to build a splash pad in the county. Member Betz said, “When the mayor and I were first elected there was the lack of a water facility here in Morgan County…We did a lot of field trips to visit splash pads…We talked Weber Morgan Health and the Department of Water Resources…We decided that this is something we absolutely could do in Morgan County and that is was possible through donations from the community.” She reported that the splash pad design was developed through significant community input. Splash pads are designed for children of all ages and they also work well for children with disabilities.
Betz said that she felt the splash pad was important for a few reasons. First was the economy. She expressed that with rising gas prices it will be more difficult for county residents to visit the splash pads in Riverdale and other cities out of the county. Betz indicated that there are many Morgan residents who currently utilize splash pads in other communities on a regular basis. She also said that the splash pad would benefit Morgan businesses. Dollars that are currently spent in other communities that have splash pads will now be spent in Morgan. The splash pad will also likely draw visitors from parts of Summit County.
Morgan City asked the county to contribute $50,000 from the RAMP tax(a tax on restaurants and tourism). The RAMP tax fund has a balance of approximately $216,000 at present. The county receives all the proceeds from this tax in the county. Part of this tax is designated for this type of expenditure.
The city has had donations from many individuals and has held a number of fundraisers. Betz related her favorite story of a donation. She said, “One of my favorite donations we had last year was from Crystal Nuttall who sold eggs from her farm all summer long. Her mother said, ‘What would you like to do with the money you have earned?’ She said, ‘I want to donate it to the splash pad.’ So she came into Morgan City, put her $16.50 on the counter and said, ‘I want to make a donation to the splash pad.’”
Betz reported that it is Holcim’s 100th anniversary and that they have donated $25,000, all of the cement for splash pad and sidewalks, and 100 hours of manpower. There are a variety of other businesses that are donating time and materials to building the splash pad.
Betz assured the council and residents that there will be no increase in taxes for the splash pad and that there will be no bonding or other type of funding required. She said that the project will be paid for in full when it is completed. The splash pad, as designed will accommodate up to 100 children at a time.
She reminded the council that this is a county wide asset and is for everyone in the county. The city feels that Riverside Park will be the ideal location for the facility, particularly given the upgrades done to the park over the last few years.
Member Betz also commented that there are still splash pad features that need sponsoring. If someone wants to sponsor a feature they can receive additional information at the city offices.
The council approved the contribution unanimously. The city will now work to raise the final funds and hopes to begin construction this year.