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Splash Pads planned for Appleton Community Parks

Post Date:10/06/2015

Get ready Appleton, soon it may be time to get your splash on!

One of the headlines of Mayor Hanna’s 2016 Budget is a plan to bring an aquatic splash pad to each of Appleton’s four community parks within the next eight years. 

splash pad     

This splash pad in Sherwood is currently the only one in the area. Appleton will build a state-of-the-art splash pad at Erb Park in 2017

“Community gathering places are an essential service in any city,” said Mayor Tim Hanna. “For decades Erb Park and its pools have served Appleton, but as times change, so must the services we provide and splash pads are something our community is asking for.” 

Mayor Hanna made the announcement while standing in front of the 36-year-old main pool at Erb Park. Under a plan to add a splash pad at each of Appleton’s four largest parks, Erb Park will become the first in the city to house a splash pad when the main pool and two smaller pools at the end of the 2016 swimming season. 

During the second half of the 2015 swimming season, the aging main pool at Erb Park began experiencing significant water loss. The pool which holds 500,000 gallons of water, was losing 20% per day. Built in 1979, the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management Department has invested heavily in maintenance and repairs in the last few years just to keep the pool operational.

 splash pad

 The 2016 budget calls for the pools at Erb Park to be removed at the end of the 2016 swimming season

In a community survey conducted by the department earlier this year, two-thirds of respondents picked splash pads as the most requested major amenity for the soon-to-be renovated Erb Park. Splash pads offer a wide range of aquatic features for people of all ages. Most splash pads do not have areas of standing water and are less expensive to build and maintain than traditional swimming pools. The survey results also indicate slides and shade trees as highly desired additions to the aquatic areas. To address those requests the City will continue to invest in Mead Pool to maintain and enhance the features most requested at pools. 

Rebuilding the pools, bath houses, pavilion and parking lot at Erb Park would cost an estimated $8.5 - $11.5 million dollars. Removing the aging pools and replacing them with a splash pad, new pavilion with changing areas and a new parking lot will cost around $3 million. Making long-term repairs to the current pools would cost close to $3.5 million and would only marginally extend the life of the pools. 

The main pool at Erb Park was originally designed as a competition pool and has remained unchanged, even though statistics show the habits of pool users have shifted toward amenities like those offered at Mead pool. Built in 1961 as a competition pool and renovated in 
1992, Mead Pool offers a zero-depth entry pool with slides, diving boards and other water features. 

“Our goal in Parks and Recreation is to provide aquatic facilities that meet the needs of the community while balancing aquatics with other park facilities such as trails, skateboard parks, tennis courts, ball diamonds, playgrounds, pavilions, etc. and the explosion in the demand for recreational programs to serve the greatest amount of people,” said Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management Director Dean Gazza. 

Short-term repairs are currently being made to address the loss of water in the main pool at Erb Park with plans to reopen the pools in June of next year. In addition, plans are being developed to continue much of the same programming such as swim lessons that have been provided for years at Erb Pool. If plans included in the 2016 Budget are approved by the Common Council, demolition of the pools would begin after the 2016 swimming season, with the splash pad set to open in 2017. 

Appleton Communications Coordinator Chad Doran can be reached at (920) 832-5814

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