Splash park may open in May

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With the cash comes the splash: Kilgore City Council members signed off on the first $286,116 for the community’s coming water feature Tuesday night, and construction on the planned splash park could start in a matter of weeks.

City Hall’s ideal timeline would see employees of Water Splash Inc. get to work at Kilgore City Park April 17 and, perhaps, finish in time for a Memorial Day grand opening.

Those are the earliest possible dates, Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck told the council this week, and there’s a lot to be done in the meantime. Likewise, fundraising for the new amenity is ongoing as the city recruits donors to help reach the ideal project pricetag of approximately $400,000.

“What we’re trying to do with this project is get as much as we can with the opportunity we’ve been offered,” he said.

The opportunity includes a $200,000 grant from Mayor Ronnie Spradlin in memory of his parents, Sonny and Betty Spradlin. The remainder of the project’s initial funding comes from contributors who rise to the mayor’s fundraising challenge since August.

Those first funds cover the construction of a three-zone splash pad – fenced and partly-shaded, with numerous water features tailored to different age groups – as well as the necessary equipment to get the water flowing. They also cover the cost of relocating city park’s skateboard ramps – they’ll be moved, likely nearer the Boy Scout hut at the park, adjacent to Kay Street.

Along the way, “We’re going to reach out to some skaters,” Selleck noted. “We’re actually evaluating whether or not there’s any way we can make improvements to it.”

The $286,000 doesn’t cover everything on city planners’ wish-lists, such as a new restroom facility linked to the splash park and a system that would reuse the pads’ water to irrigate city park.

Notably, a nearby ground tank has a 75,000 capacity, and a recent examination showed it’s in good condition and could serve as part of the irrigation system – if funds are donated or if, at some point in the future, council members opt to invest money in it.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to reuse the water from the splash park to irrigate the park,” Selleck said, “which is currently irrigated with freshwater.”

For the zero-depth splash park, plans with Water Splash Inc. – building parks around the world from its base in Champlain, New York – are still being finalized.

“We’re still tweaking the design to try to make it as efficient as possible and to try to make it as best as possible,” Selleck said.

The current design is dotted with Kilgore-themed elements. There are multiple stars of different sizes plus a pine tree feature, a towering derrick fountain, a railroad crossing bucket tree and a water tower that will bear the city’s logo and the brand for the Spradlin family’s Lazy S ranch. There are five of everything, Selleck said: five jets, five geysers, five spray elements. There are mushroom-shaped “aqua domes;” a play system of pumps, pedals, wheels and tracks; two slides; a nature frog and more.

The elements are split between three 40-foot diameter circular zones: a center splash pad, one for older kids (i.e. 5-12 years-old) and one for younger children and toddlers.

Other items, such as more seating and shade, can be added, Selleck said, as funds become available.

“We know we don’t have a fully-funded project. We’re trying to move forward with the key amenity section of it … What we’re trying to do is get the splash pad portion built first.”

The overall park totals approximately 7,500 square-feet at the moment.

“It’s large,” said Susie Cirillo of Water Splash Inc. The flow is also customizable, fully-programmable, with on/off to save on water consumption.

Visiting similar parks in the area, Spradlin said some were half as large for the same cost. The working design spearheaded by City Hall employees spreads features out, he added, so young users will have plenty of space.

“After touring some other people’s parks this is a really nice size spray park, especially for the money.”

The four council members in attendance Tuesday unanimously-approved the project. Moving for approval, Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon thanked Spradlin.

“It would not even be contemplated without what you’re doing,” he said, “so we truly appreciate that.”

Learn how to contribute to the park fundraiser at www.cityofkilgore.com.

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