A Splash Park on a Water Plant Site Demonstrates a City's Commitment to Its Citizens

A water park with kid-friendly features becomes the centerpiece on the grounds of a Kentucky community’s newly upgraded water plant.

A Splash Park on a Water Plant Site Demonstrates a City's Commitment to Its Citizens

Two ribbon-cutting ceremonies, exactly two years apart, marked major changes at the City of Danville, Kentucky, 12 mgd Coldiron-Watkins Memorial Water Treatment Plant.

The first, in August 2017, highlighted a five-year project that upgraded and expanded the plant, built in 1924 and improved during the 1950s and 1960s. The second, last August, is the one that instills civic pride in Andy Tompkins, plant superintendent.

“The completion of the Splash Park on the plant site demonstrates the commitment the city made to citizens when we started our project,” Tompkins says. 

Keeping a promise

Before construction could begin on the upgrade project, a popular city park with playground equipment in front of the plant had to be shut down. A church next to the park and separated by a fence had to make other arrangements for a parking lot. In addition, a portion of a well-used hiking trail system had to be relocated.

The city received a grant for community outreach and education from the Kentucky Division of Water and intended to rebuild the park as part of the expansion project, but budget constraints led the state to withdraw the grant.

Among citizen complaints about the delay were letters to the editor in The Advocate-Messenger newspaper. One, co-written by an 8-year-old and 10-year-old, said they missed the playground in front of the treatment plant. “We used to have an awesome playground but now they tore it out,” read the letter. “Now it’s in the dumpster.”

Motivated to keep its promise, the city proceeded with plans to rebuild the park with intent to reapply for the grant. City staff collaborated with the church elders to relocate the fence and built a gazebo to accommodate church picnics.

Fun features

As part of a stormwater protection program, a 2-acre wetland and rain garden with native plants was developed as an educational park and interpretive area. Signage describes water treatment functions and the importance of stewardship.

The trail, which connects with a Wildlife Refuge across the street, now passes through the park, with strategically placed benches, picnic tables and restrooms. A wooden boardwalk and bridge cross near the wetland.

An iconic sycamore tree was spared during construction. More than 50 new trees and shrubs were planted, and mulch was added to the landscape. The area around an existing playground with swings, teeter-totters and climbing bars was enhanced with landscape paver stones.

But the Splash Park is the big draw for the kids. Two overlapping 60-foot circles of 6-inch-thick fiber-reinforced colored concrete slabs form the base for eight aboveground water features. With names such as the Sneaky Soaker, Spiral Tunnel, Spinny Squirt and Fun-Brella, the features are supplied by 15 nozzles that intermittently deliver spray at 15 psi to each area.

Big celebration

A programmable controller in a 4-foot-high aluminum cabinet anchored to a concrete slab controls the flow to each feature. The kiosk provides easy access for maintenance and is secure from the public. All waterlines have positive drainage to a low point for winterizing and maintenance.

More than 60 people attended the ribbon-cutting, celebrating the opening of the water park. The mayor and other city officials were on hand to recognize and express appreciation to those responsible for the project.

Tompkins was simply pleased with the turnout: “The weather was kind of steamy, but it was good to see the kids enjoying themselves in the splash play and to hear how we fulfilled our commitment.”


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