After being wowed with possibilities the last time it met, the committee charged with putting together a recommendation for a spray park in St. Clair started getting down to the nitty-gritty as far as specifics.
Late last month, the group led by Ward 2 Alderman Barb McGlenn and City Administrator Rick Childers began putting together a list of “musts” for the facility which is proposed to be housed where the former community swimming pool was located in Evergreen Park.
After about 50 years of use, the pool was demolished in September. Plans are to develop some kind of water facility at the site to replace the pool and provide aquatic relief to residents during the summer months.
The available area totals 22,400 square feet, or an area roughly 140 by 160 feet.
Currently, Franklin County has no spray park of any kind.
“This committee has been charged to investigate and bring back a proposal to the board of aldermen regarding a spray park,” Childers said during the meeting on Sept. 25. “That means we need to look at this and this and this and this and this to come up with what we want.”
No price tags formally have been discussed, and the project does not yet have a budget. However, preliminary discussions have included a figure between $200,000 and $400,000.
“We’re at the point of putting together what the park has to have,” Childers said. “This committee has the responsibility to the city and to the community to come up with a workable plan that has all the parts.”
Earlier in September, four companies that specialize in pools and water facilities presented ideas to the committee. Three of the firms — Capri Pools and Aquatics, Waterworks International and Westport Pools — had representatives at the meeting while another — Splash Zone based in Arizona — gave its ideas through a teleconference.
“We have no idea how these work and what’s really popular,” Childers said before those presentations, which were designed to educate the committee on what’s available and how the parks work.
As the discussion progressed during the meeting, committee members were in agreement to go with what Childers called a “design-build process” in seeking proposals for what the park will include.
“With this process, you establish what the project is going to cost and you ask for qualifications and proposals to produce what you want at or below that price.
“No matter what happens, the end price stays the same.”
The committee then discussed what a Request for Qualifications and a Request for Proposals may include.
“We need to determine specifically what we want,” Childers said.
Spray parks contain a combination of in-ground and above-ground water features situated throughout the featured area. A wide variety of sprays are available considering the shape, style and height options.
The companies that gave presentations to the board earlier this month showed off what some of those features are. Committee members were in agreement that St. Clair’s park needs to have some combination of in-ground and above-ground sprays with some variety in regard to both of those options. They also said they would like the park to be divided into younger and older areas for children.
The committee also said musts are adequate restrooms, a covered area to provide shade, benches and a place for guests to sit. The group also is in agreement because of the surrounding landscape, the park would be fenced on three sides. The pad would be concrete.
The existing parking lot would be utilized.
“We want the park to be inviting,” Childers said.
Committee member Bob Fawe was adament the facility include a circulating system so the water used could be recycled.
“I don’t think we should do the project at all if we can’t recapture and recycle the water,” he said. “The volume of water we’re talking about is just ...
“It would be terrible not to recycle it. That’s just my opinion.”
Committee member Letha Childers agreed.
“I wholeheartedly agree we shouldn’t be wasteful with our resources,” she said, adding that the recapturing system could be added in the future instead of right away.
“This will be nice to give St. Clair something different,” Fawe said. “But we have to be responsible.”
Earlier in their discussion, the group talked about adding the recycling option later because of the increased cost. By the end of the meeting, however, members seemed to be in agreement to seek proposals including the recycling feature.
As far as area covered by the spray park, members specified roughly 5,000 to 8,000 square feet with the other area used for the restrooms, patio, seating and other components. They also said the spray heads should be interchangeable so the makeup of the park can be changed.
The sprays also could be operated by on-off buttons.
Childers said he will work on putting together requests for qualifications and proposals that will include the basics of what the city wants. Committee members remain hopeful that a time line could be put together that has the park open by Memorial Day next year.