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CAT grant makes a splash (pad)

No pump and dump for Solon Work delayed until final plans approved

SOLON– Solon’s splash pad should be cooling off kids next summer.
The site at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA) has been prepped and is ready to roll, and the city is only waiting on final approval of its plans by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The water amenity has been delayed by a change in the original plan, explained Public Works Director Scott Kleppe.
“What threw a wrench into this for the most part was the recirculation, recycling of the water,” he said.
A splash pad is an aquatic play area with no standing water, typically featuring nozzles spraying into the air.
The splash pad was originally designed as a “pump and dump” style, Kleppe said, meaning the water used for the features is not recycled, but could potentially be used to irrigate the area.
But the pad’s proximity to the Lake Macbride Watershed, and its environmental impact forced the city to include a filtration and chlorination system to recycle the water at an added cost of $80-90,000, he said.
“The City of Solon is in the Lake Macbride Watershed and being a good neighbor to the state park is a responsibility we take seriously,” added City Administrator Cami Rasmussen via email. In consultation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, she said, the city agreed a recycled water collection system would be best for the splash pad.
“While the original Splash Pad design called for water collection system that would allow water from the splash pad to be captured and used for irrigation purposes within the SRNA, changing to a recycled system will provide the best protection to Lake Macbride,” she added.
Changing the design to include additional equipment required a modified timeline for completion, Rasmussen noted.
The end result, Kleppe pointed out, is the city’s splash pad will be required to meet state testing standards for a swimming pool. The city has been working back and forth with its engineers and the supplier, he said, and is awaiting a review by the state department of health before final plans can be approved.
“I know what the requirements are for a swimming pool,” Kleppe observed. “I don’t know if they are relaxed a little bit for a splash pad like this where there’s going to be no standing water.”
He said he would look to obtain feedback from the state.
A splash pad was identified as the top response in a 2012 online survey emailed out to parents of elementary and middle school students in the Solon Community School District, and to families who previously enrolled in park and recreation programming.
In mid-2015, the parks and recreation commission sent out an informational letter to over 3,000 households and asked for contributions and a volunteer splash pad committee was formed.
The overall project includes a splash pad area (about 50 feet in diameter) and a building for restrooms, showers and an overhanging shelter area. The building will also include the mechanical controls for the splash pad and the filtration and chlorination equipment.
In the last year, Rasmussen and Splash Pad Chair Melissa Tiedemann traveled to Des Moines twice to present an application for funding to the state Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Committee.
In June, the committee awarded the project $56,549, Rasmussen said, slightly more than 15 percent of the budget.
“The $56,000 is actually a little more, but they decided because of the regional impact that the restrooms are going to play with the trail head, that they would go a little higher than the 15 percent,” she explained.
The state grant allows the city to move forward with both the splash pad and the building, although a fundraiser will likely be held for amenities like benches, she said.
The Splash Pad Committee is also continuing its Pave The Puddle Path fundraiser, which brought in over $10,000, Rasmussen stated. Anyone wanting a brick should probably purchase it before the end of summer, she added.
The project received financial support from a number of Solon organizations, as well as Johnson County and other regional contributors.
Johnson County contributed $30,000 because of the regional impact of the restrooms adjacent to the Hoover Nature Trail.
“This bathroom’s going to serve a lot more than the folks using the splash pad,” Rasmussen noted.
Local donations came from the Solon Beef Days Committee ($25,000), the Solon Area Community Foundation ($7,500), the Optimist Club of Solon ($6,000) and the Solon Women's Club ($3,000 to date, with more coming).
In addition to the CAT grant, the splash pad received support from the Wellmark Foundation ($21,780), Wellmark 3 Point Play ($11,820), the Johnson County Community Foundation ($2,400) and the Alliant Foundation ($2,500), Rasmussen reported.
In-kind contributions came from V&K Engineering (design), Jay Proffitt Contruction (site work), JEDD Construction (site work) and E&J Electric (site work), she said.
The City of Solon purchased the land ($14,763) and budgeted an additional $90,600 toward the project, she noted.
There are still a couple of unknown costs, she said, such as running a sewer line to the site, which will evolve as the final design materializes.
Realistically, construction should take about three months, Kleppe said.
The city was hopeful to have the project done earlier this year, but he’s confident it can be built and open in time for the 2020 season.
The restrooms will be open seasonally with time-lock doors similar to those used with the Timber DOME Lodge and the SRNA concession stand, he noted.
Rasmussen said there was no intentional effort to coincide with the completion of the Hoover Nature Trail linking Cedar Rapids and Solon.
“Our goal is to get this in as soon as possible, as soon as we get the approvals,” she said. “If there’s any work that can be done this fall, we will do it.”
She extended the city’s thanks to all the donors.
“I think the community is really excited,” she said. “It’s going to be an amazing addition to the Solon Recreation and Nature Area and it’s going to be a great welcome for the people using the trail, as well.”