With Location Set, Splash Pad To Be Constructed This Year

Managing Editor

City officials are looking to make a big splash in the downtown area with the help of St. Marys junior high students and a fourth-grade teacher.

Members of the St. Marys Parks and Playgrounds Committee met with Kristy Guy, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Marys West Intermediate School, and her students two years ago. 

Her students had to pitch an idea of having a splash pad in city limits as they presented funding opportunities, a location, a design and other features. Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said he, committee members and other city employees heard roughly five presentations.

Now, that class project will soon be a reality. 

“It got us to thinking, ‘they have some pretty good ideas,’” Foxhoven said. 

As the city looked more into it, they came across the cost, which was around $250,000 for a roughly 40-by-40 foot size and the city will be receiving some financial help for the splash pad, he added

Manager of Industrial and Community Development Mike Burkholder said that every two years, there is a state capital budget for projects that improve recreational activities and other capital projects that cannot be included in the state’s operating budget. 

In 2018, there was a budget being set, prompting Burkholder to write to State Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) to request money for a splash pad based on the students’ presentation to city officials.

“We thought it would be a good hit for our community and something that was another attraction other than to the pool,” Burkholder said.

Around four or five months later, the city heard back that it will receive $100,000 for the project.

Foxhoven said the plan is to have project ready by spring 2020 and construction to begin this summer or fall. The project has to be completed by June 2020 or the funding is gone and the city would have to try to get it again during the next capital budget. The city will pay for the $250,000 upfront and then get reimbursed by the state. The city’s budget, approved in January, does have appropriations for the splash pad.

The location for the splash pad will be to the west of the High Street Shelter house in the grass area.

“We are thinking about a 40-by-40, but we are playing around with the actual size,” Foxhoven said. “We want it to be unique to St. Marys.”

City officials will meet with Guy and her now-sixth-grade students next week to talk to them about what features they would like to see for the splash pad. By then, the city is hoping to have a rendering ready.

Foxhoven said the city wants the splash pad to be open to the public and free. He added that the infrastructure at the pool would accommodate a splash pad, but space was a concern and officials did not want the pool area to become more crowded. 

“We talked about other parks, such as Memorial Park but it is so busy, especially during SummerFest that it wouldn’t be conducive to that,” Foxhoven said. “We talked about K.C. Geiger Park, but some of us have reservation about it there because it would be isolated and we would worry about vandalism. 

“Unfortunately, every other week, we have vandalism at some level at K.C. Geiger and our concern was if this splash pad sat out at K.C. Geiger Park in those times where the park is not really busy, there could be vandalism.”

Thus, having the splash pad at the High Street Shelter House would be a great place in order to draw people in that area. 

With the high volume of traffic on High Street and the canal, vandalism would be less likely to occur and with the addition of the preservation of the mill that the city is hoping to begin work on later this year, the thought of having a splash pad in that location becomes more attractive. 

Locally, New Bremen and Delphos and the Grand Lake St. Marys State Park have a splash pads.

“It makes sense,” Foxhoven said. “We think it will be a good fit.”

To read the full story, see Saturday's print edition of The Evening Leader.