Splash pad site chosen; construction in Cecil Davis Park begins soon

KINGMAN - The children of the Kingman area - and their parents - will have a cool way to stay cool when the weather warms up late next spring, thanks to the Kingman Venture Club, the City Council, and a community that supported the plan with gusto - and lots of donated greenbacks.

The City Council in a 6-1 vote at Tuesday's meeting approved installation of the Kingman Splash Pad and ceded to the desires of the Kingman Venture Club, which lobbied for a recirculating system at Cecil Davis Park.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department wanted a different type of pad at a different park.

The city also agreed to pick up maintenance costs for the facility, expected to fall somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 a a year, based on the cost other cities have with splash pads, according to Lisa Bruno, president of the Kingman Venture Club.

Over the past few months, the club has raised more than $260,000 in donations from businesses and individuals to pay for the pad.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Meersman had a number of concerns about the recirculation system, as the water is treated the same as pool water and he feared children would drink it, as opposed to a repurposing system, which uses drinkable water.

While repurposing systems are twice as expensive and fairly uncommon compared to recirculating systems, Meersman suggested the city would "put in the difference" above what money the Venture Club raised.

In addition to public safety, Meersman cited potential city liability due to the chemicals, water conservation and the long-term cost of ownership. He also said repurposing systems are easier to maintain and use less electricity than recirculation systems.

Meersman said South Side Park would be the best site. There's a holding pond that could be used to store the water, which would be used during the daytime at the splash pad and at night to irrigate turf. And if the Council wanted to go with a recirculating system, he suggested Centennial Park would be the best option since it is close to the municipal swimming pool, where chemicals are stored and certified pool operators are already on duty.

Bruno and Storm Hargrave lobbied the Council for a pad that uses a recirculating system at Cecil Davis Park. Bruno said both systems are good, but her study of splash pads indicates "recirculation works best. We've tried to meet halfway on this. We know we can do Cecil Davis Park on our budget and in our timeframe."

The goal is to have the pad open to the public over Memorial Day weekend.

Councilman Mark Abram said people who pledged money for the splash pad did so on the premise it would be built at Cecil Davis Park on Van Buren Street in eastern Kingman, and not at Centennial.

Bruno received four bids, with a low from one company of $210,000 and a high of $275,000 from another for a recirculating system, and $388,000 to $430,000 for a repurposing system. One company submitted a bid with both systems at more than $420,000.

Bruno said Meersman didn't provide provable figures in his presentation, and she said he "overstated" the problems with recirculating systems and "understated" the issues with repurposing systems.

Hargrave said her research led her to change her mind about repurposing systems once she realized how limited the water features would be. "We'd have a sprinkle pad, not a splash pad," she said.

The club initially focused on the repurposing system as a water conservation matter, but changed its mind once they started learning about splash pads.

"The Venture Club has done everything we've asked them to do," said Councilman Larry Carver. "We started looking at it when they came up with the money. I don't want to see Kingman be an experiment with a repurpose. There's not that many out there and you have to limit features with a repurpose. Now it's up to the city to honor its part of it."

Five of Carver's colleagues agreed. Councilman Stuart Yocum voted against the project, saying he favored a repurposing system.