Splash Pad Takes Next Steps

St. Marys city officials and former students of Kristy Guy’s fourth-grade class pose for a picture on Monday. Mike Burkholder, Gregg Clark and Greg Foxhoven met with the Splash Pad Team today at the middle school to discuss their ideas for this project.
Managing Editor

The city’s plan for a splash pad in the downtown area took another step toward becoming a reality.

On Monday, St. Marys city officials met with former students from Kristy Guy’s fourth-grade class to discuss plans for the splash pad, which is set to begin construction this summer.  

“I think the splash pad will be a great addition to the community. It is something for all ages and abilities to enjoy,” Guy said. “This project is a team effort and shows great collaboration between our school and our community.” 

Members of the St. Marys Parks and Playgrounds Committee met with Guy and her students two years ago. Her students had to pitch an idea of having a splash pad in the city limits as they presented funding opportunities, a location, a design and other features. Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said he in an interview earlier this year that committee members and other city employees heard roughly five presentations.

“This project began as a social studies letter writing assignment,” Guy said. “The students choose a topic of interest at the local and state level and wrote letters to politicians. My goal was to teach them about civic participation. The students were just excited to get a reply. 

“The next thing you know, Jim Harris, the council president, called and invited our class to [an] evening meeting so the students could see the governmental process in action. We decided if we were going, we weren’t going as a group of kids but as educated citizens with a list of requests.” 

Guy said after she and her students attended a council meeting, there were several objectives the group checked off their list for the splash pad.

Those objectives included: picking alternative locations for the pad, designed fundraisers, wrote lists of rules for splash pad use, made a design plan, figured a cost analysis, developed a theme, had a guest speaker from the pool, had a guest speaker from city engineering department, wrote and directed public service announcements about storm safety and splash pads, typed brochures for the city of St. Marys highlighting the attractions, attended a school board meeting to share the project, went on field trips to the wastewater and water treatment plant, visited Stoneco to learn about natural resources and made a flow chart of how a splash pad is built. Presentations were made to council on May 12, 2017.

“The project took off from there and here we are today,” Guy said.

The following year, council stayed in contact with Guy and said they wanted to see this through to completion and the students agreed. 

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. 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 meeting set, prompting manager of Industrial and Community Development Mike 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. The city received $100,000 for the project.

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.

“I’m so proud of my students for putting in the extra effort and for following through the last two years as they have gotten older,” Guy said. “I’m thankful to the city council and other city administrators that welcomed my students’ ideas and were encouraging throughout the process.”