FULTON, NY – With summer weather on the horizon, city officials continue working on plans to construct Fulton’s first splash park.
A splash park, a fenced concrete pad with sprinkler systems, is a more cost efficient and inclusive summer entertainment activity for the youth, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward said.
City officials budgeted $45,000 to construct the splash park for the summer of 2018 after the idea was voiced by council president representing the Third Ward, Donald Patrick Jr.
“We just want something for the kids. We have young people moving into our city because we have affordable housing. They look at everything- they look at the school system, we have a top notch school system, we have all the amenities as far as fire, police, snow removal, garbage pick up, those are all big things for people. Then they’re going to look at parks and recreation. We have a lot of parks and a lot of youth programs for kids in Fulton, and that’s a big draw for people with young kids. We want those people to settle here. This will add to that appeal, recreation for the kids in the summer,” Patrick said.
After much research, the city’s first splash park will be modeled after one from the neighboring city of Oswego.
Woodward and Patrick spoke with the city of Oswego DPW commissioner to discuss construction plans and details.
Using city employees, they discovered the splash park can be constructed on their own for $45,000. The splash park will need approval by the Oswego County Health Department so Fulton is replicating already approved plans sent from Oswego.
The splash park will measure as a 40 foot by 40 foot fenced concrete pad with a copper tubing sprinkler system and the possibility of an animal sprinkler structure, the options will remain open depending on the budget throughout construction.
Benches will surround the fenced area for parents to supervise and the splash park will be usable from 10 a.m – 8 p.m.
Running on city water, city officials have prioritized the use of a sensor to activate the water. The sensor will only turn on the sprinklers when activated by activity in the splash park.
Just as all city buildings and the city’s former pools, water usage will be metered at the splash park and budgeted, not to cost taxpayers any increase in water bills, Woodward said.
Patrick plans to construct the first splash park at Recreation Park on William Gillard Drive. The location will highlight the area that Patrick referred to as the city’s “recreation hub” given the many surrounding recreational opportunities.
The splash park will be located within Recreation Park complete with a playground, exercise equipment station and pavilion, and in close proximity to the city softball and football fields, skating rink, War Memorial, walking trail, incoming teen park, and Lake Neatahwanta featuring a handicap accessible kayak launch.
While splash parks do not require lifeguards or paid supervision of any kind, the Recreation Department housed at the nearby War Memorial will be available regularly, Woodward said.
Eventually, Patrick is hopeful to implement a splash park on the east side of the city as well.
The city previously owned and operated two public pools, one on each side of the river. However, due to lessening usage from the community and increasing cost to maintain each pool, they both have since been closed.
“We can’t afford (the cost) of a pool on each city of the river,” Mayor Woodward said. “The pools were so old and outdated, we were looking at several hundred thousand dollars just to do repairs. It’s a huge investment.”
In recent years, he continued, more city homes have put in private pools. At the time of closing, the west side pool served only 11 people a day at a cost of $54,000 annually to staff the pool, chlorinate it, add water, and maintain it through several repairs.
“There is always a liability issue with a pool, that’s why we had trained staff to pay but for affordability reasons for the city, that’s not an option now. We can’t have a pool but it is an intrical part of recreational services in a community and for that, a splash park is the next best thing. There seem to be more and more popping up in other communities. It’s a nice, affordable way to let kids have fun and cool off in the summer,” said Parks and Recreation Superintendent Barry Ostrander.
For those who may want to learn how to swim in a pool, Patrick recommends utilizing other community resources such as the Fulton YMCA and Granby Elementary School, both with indoor pools accessible to the public.
Additionally, all Fulton City School District fourth graders take swim lessons as part of school curriculum, he added.
“A pool just isn’t for everybody,” Patrick said. A splash park is a more inclusive option as it can accommodate all age ranges including those who are not able to swim and are entirely handicapped accessible.
With no associated cost for lifeguards, chlorine, or maintenance, the splash park is more financially lenient as well.
The current goal is to have the splash park constructed and ready for use by summer, Woodward said.
“Splash parks are an up and coming thing for cities,” Patrick said. “This is something we can afford to give to the kids.”