Plans are in place for an interactive splash pad in Archbold but the proposed project is in the community’s hands.
The village’s Parks and Recreation Department has teamed with Minnesota-based Aquatix by Landscape Structures to design a $430,000, approximately 3,000 square-foot, handicapped-accessible splash pad for Ruihley Park at 401 W. Holland St. However, the department doesn’t have the revenue for it, so instead will have to rely on donations from local businesses and residents.
“We decided to take it to the community and, hopefully, get the contributions from the community to make it happen,” said Jennifer Kidder, Parks and Recreation director. “We have everything in place now, the budget’s prepared, so now it’s just actually raising the funds so that we can move forward.”
The village has issued a letter campaign targeting both businesses and residents, asking for financial support. Kidder said the success of the project lies solely with community members.
“I know that there’s great excitement for this project to happen, so I hope that people are willing to help out a little bit,” she said. “For me, that person that gives $10 is just as important as somebody that gives $500 or $1,000. Everybody’s dollars are important to make this happen, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without any of it.”
A splash pad has been a Parks and Recreation wish list project for some time, she said. Residential surveys conducted periodically by the village have shown avid interest in a splash pad, so last year Kidder presented the idea to the department’s board. She also visited splash pads in communities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio to question children about and witness first-hand which features they most enjoyed.
Aquatix was chosen to customize and install Archbold’s proposed splash pad due to Landscape Structures’ previous work on village playgrounds and because the company’s splash pads are handicapped-accessible and interactive, Kidders said.
“We wanted kids to be doing something” rather than just stand under flowing water, she said.
Designed specifically for Archbold, the attraction will include such features as an aqua gather station, a hydro sphere that shoots water, a spray stacker, and a hydro helix that sends sprays of water in different directions.
Kidder said Ruihley Park was chosen for the splash pad over Memorial Park and Woodland Park due to its central location, easy access to children, built-in parking lot, restrooms, and large picnic shelter. “We felt like we had a perfect spot in Ruihley Park that wasn’t being used,” she said.
Once funding is secured the project’s equipment can be delivered in about six weeks, and installation can be completed in another four weeks. Kidder said the only thing holding back the splash pad is its $430,000 price tag, which the Parks and Recreation Department simply can’t handle.
“It has to be completely through donations. We can’t dedicate any park funds to it,” she said.
However, building a splash pad entirely through community support will allow for free admission. And Kidder said after it’s built operational costs would be minimal. The attraction wouldn’t need staff or lifeguards, and the water would be chemically treated and recirculated, an affordable process.
It’s a feasible project with an estimated opening next year, although a vigorous donation campaign could push that date forward. “I’m very hopeful we can make it happen in 2022 but I’m trying really hard to make it happen in 2021,” Kidder said.
Archbold Mayor Brad Grime said the project hinges on whether it can be funded through donations and possible grant money, “and that’s going to be a big undertaking. We just don’t have the funds tax-wise to support that.”
He said splash pads have become very popular destinations, and Archbold’s project would be placed relatively close to its community pool.
“It will attract people from other villages. And, of course, when you bring other people into town it’s always a plus thing,” Grime said.
The project is still in its early stages, so no start or completion dates have been considered. Kidder said she’s confident it will progress with the help of community members.
“We’re really excited about it, and hopefully the community of Archbold is very excited and is ready to jump on the bandwagon and make it happen,” she said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.