Council Allocates Funding For Splash Pads

The City Council voted Monday to allocate $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the installation of two splash pads in Jamestown. Pictured is City Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At Large, during Monday’s City Council voting session. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

With funding for two city splash pads approved by the City Council, community members will have opportunities over the next couple weeks to provide input regarding splash pad projects.

The City Council voted Monday to approve the allocation of $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act Healthy Neighborhoods funding for splash pad projects in Jackson-Taylor Park and Allen Park.

The original resolution was for the allocation of $500,000 in ARPA funding; however, the City Council voted to approve an amendment proposed by City Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At Large, during Monday’s voting session. Russell said the City Council has been “made aware” of a state grant that could cover up to $100,000 of the two splash pad projects. As a result, he proposed that the City Council change the funding allocation from $500,000 to $400,000.

In addition to changing the allocation amount, Russell presented two concerns regarding the location of a splash pad at Jackson-Taylor Park.

“I’m concerned about the safety of our children at the location we’re talking about putting it,” he said. “There’s a lot more traffic down there now with places like Tim Hortons, obviously we’re putting a new facility down there with large trucks. My ultimate fear is that a child is going to be crossing that roadway unsupervised possibly and is going to be struck by a vehicle and killed. That is my ultimate concern with it being down there.”

Russell explained that he has “grave concerns” regarding the possibility of children having to cross Washington Street to go to the proposed splash pad at Jackson-Taylor Park. He expressed his fear of installing the splash pad at that location and learning a couple years later that a child was killed crossing the street unsupervised.

Russell also presented a concern regarding the “stability” of the soil at Jackson-Taylor Park. Based on conversations Russell has had with Dan Stone, Parks manager, Russell warned the City Council against investing a large sum of money in a splash pad that might not be successful in the long-term with the condition of the soil.

“I’ve asked him about other locations within the park where it can be placed,” Russell said. “He said there’s really no other place to put it because of the instability of some of the some of the soil down there and really the only logical place is where the old skate park is where the blacktop is, and it’s even questionable whether that it can be placed there. What I would hate to see is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars putting the splash pad in that location and then have it fail a couple years down the line and pretty much be a waste of money.”

In light of concerns surrounding the quality of soil at Jackson-Taylor Park, Russell requested that the City Council amend the resolution to include a request for a private engineering firm to be hired by the city to determine the feasibility and practicality of installing a splash pad at the park. Russell said that if Jackson-Taylor Park is not deemed a feasible location by a private engineering firm, then the splash pad project could be moved to Roseland Park, which is not far from Jackson-Taylor Park.

Ultimately, the City Council voted to approve Russell’s amendment to the splash pad resolution and approved the splash pad projects.

City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, explained that the splash pad proposal is something the city has talked about offering the community for a “long time.” Despite concerns in recent months regarding the cost of the splash pads, the location of the splash pads, safety concerns and other concerns regarding splash pads, Dolce said he felt good about being able to finally pass the resolution and is hopeful that the project will be able to start soon. Dolce said the splash pads will be a “nice addition” to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

While the City Council has officially allocated funding for the splash pad projects, Dolce said community members will still have opportunities to participate in discussions regarding the design plans and locations of the two splash pads. The first community engagement meeting will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Allen Park Ice Arena, and the second community engagement meeting will be held April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Jackson-Taylor Park Pavilion.

“There is still room to change the design, change the plans, change the locations, and again, with a stipulation of maybe having an independent survey to take a look at whether or not it’s even feasible to put one down there,” Dolce said. “Maybe it’s possible to move it over just down the road to Roseland Park or some other location within Jackson-Taylor Park. There’s still some options. All this resolution does tonight is just allocates that money to be there, so that in the event when it does happen, it’s there and they’re ready to go.”

Dolce told local reporters that while there are “a lot of moving parts” to the splash pad projects, the community has “clamored” for improvements to the city’s parks with ARPA funding, especially with regard to the splash pad projects.

While the majority of City Council members voted to approve funding for the splash pad projects, City Councilman William Reynolds, R-Ward V, voted against the resolution. Asked why he voted against the splash pads, Reynolds said he believes there are other priorities in the city that need to be considered more.

“Splash pads are a great idea for a growing community; we’re a declining community,” he said.

Between health risks, the possibility of having to shut down the splash pads due to future COVID-19 strains, the soil stabilization concerns presented by Russell, and the current situation with the U.S. economy, Reynolds said there are other things he would prefer the City Council to look at besides splash pads. He also questioned whether the splash pad projects would “favor” certain neighborhoods in the city.

“I just don’t find that they’re a necessity at this point in time for the economy status of the city, and I feel strongly that there’s other areas that need to have money,” he said.

Despite voting against the splash pad projects, Reynolds commended the Parks Department for doing a “great job” for the Jamestown community. From his perspective, he believes the city has one of the best park systems for its size in the state.


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