Splashpad is a good idea if funds are available

Mayor Randy Hibberd
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Cathy and I would be having work done on our kitchen and back porch. Well, that work is in full swing now. New flooring is down, but there are torn up counter tops, empty drawers and cabinet doors piled for painting, and filing cabinet and desk drawers stacked in the living and dining rooms. 
 In the midst of all of this, we had our grandsons over the other day. Not only that, but Cathy had bought the boys a set of plastic tools and plastic screws to build things out of cardboard. So … we had construction going on at both ends of the house! 
 I came home to find a new “house” on our front porch, a super-hero suit in the living room including helmet, body armor, jet pack, and boots, and a few things that I just couldn’t figure out. You can imagine how the house looked!
 The boys had a GREAT time! 
 Before they left that afternoon, the oldest one told me that it is impossible to be bored at our place. I think Cathy and I will take this as a compliment.
 Now on to City business.
 A topic of discussion for several years has been the prospect of installing a splash pad in town. Now there is a group raising money for the installation. The City is all for this effort. A splash pad would be a nice addition to the recreational activities in town.
 The installed purchase price would be between $150,000 to $250,000 depending on the quality and the amenities. Higher quality equipment usually comes with a higher price tag but generally tends to have fewer maintenance issues.
 Mike Campbell, the City’s public works director, has spent a considerable amount of time researching all aspects of a splash pad. The City’s concern is the ongoing expense. There are several variables to these expenses, but I’ll try to hit on the highlights.
 As per other cities that have splash pads, replacing parts annually is between $3,000 to $5,000. 
 In addition, a typical splash pad uses 1,000 gallons of water per day. This is an additional $20/day or $600/month. To mitigate this water expense, the most logical place to install a splash pad would be on the north end of the swimming pool. At this location, the pad could tie into the pool’s filtration system. 
 However, our current licensed pool operator, Ken Anderson, is also our Recreation Department director. During the summer, with the pool and summer activities, his time is stretched awfully thin. The addition of a splash pad would require at least hiring a seasonal employee who is licensed as a pool operator. This would amount to at least another $30,000 per year. 
 A splash pad on private property would still require a licensed operator to maintain the system. 
 Charging a fee for the use of the splash pad seems to be the logical solution. The concern is whether the fees would cover the operating expenses. 
 Let me give you an example. The swimming pool generated an income of $29,593 in 2023. The expense was $58,835 for a loss of $29,292. The swimming pool provides activities for all age groups. The splash pad would be used for a smaller segment of the public. It is hard to see how fees generated by a splash pad would cover the expense of $35,000 plus without the fee being unaffordable to the parents paying those fees. 
 As a practical matter, the City does not have the funds to provide this service out-of-pocket without cutting other services. Currently, the City runs the Vendome and the swimming pool in a deficit. The City Council has continued to fund these operations because they have been seen as essential to Weiser’s quality of life. Either one of these would probably need to be cut in order to fund a splashpad’s ongoing expenses through the City. Most small towns that have a splash pad do not also have a pool. 
 Another consideration is that there have been several projects in the past where groups have raised the funds for a project, vowed to maintain it in perpetuity, only to have the group disburse and the City take over operations. 
 Again, the City is completely for having a splashpad added to the recreational features of Weiser. The concern is the ability to sustain the splashpad once it is installed. The City would like to have a sit down meeting with the splashpad organizers to discuss possible solutions. The City does not have a monopoly on perspective and may need to see this from another angle. There may be a solution that is just not obvious to us at this time.
 Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you have a good one!


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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