Water playgrounds to be ready by spring

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 3, 2008

Cold weather has only recently moved into Brookhaven. But ifcity children can hang on through the winter months, BrookhavenParks and Recreation Department Director Terry Reid will have alittle something special for them when spring rolls around.

A pair of identical spray parks – one at Bicentennial Park andthe other at City Park – are scheduled to open at winter’s end. Thefacilities, however, will be completed long before.

Reid said work on the parks, each of which costs approximately$100,000 and measures 2,000 square feet, began last Tuesday.Construction is expected to wrap up within two to three weeks.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Once complete, Reid said the parks would be tested andwinterized with anti ice fluids. Then, the wait is on.

“Whenever the first warm spell arrives, we’re gonna fire ’emoff,” Reid said. “They’ll be ready for spring.”

Kids at the spray park will be able to fire them off, as eachpark will be equipped with several water-throwing options.

Pelham, Ala.-based J.A. Dawson and Co. Project SuperintendentMark Batson said each park will be equipped with several featuressuch as water cannon, water falls and spray jets.

“You’re going to have different features that spray at differenttimes,” he said. “Multiple features will go through timedevents.”

Batson said each park will have 13 features, including five”misty mountains,” which spray into the air in a pattern; fourgeysers; two “cosmic cannon,” which can be swiveled for waterfights; one “spiller pillar,” which continually fills a bucket anddumps it onto the splash pad; and one “sneaky soaker,” which soakssneakily.

Batson said he has been overseeing the construction of sprayparks for seven years, with his company operating in Mississippi,Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Batson’s is the same companythat built a massive spray park in Brandon.

Reid touted the spray parks as a viable alternative to swimmingpools, which require high construction and maintenance costs, largestaffs and increased liability. The parks, on the other hand, areabout 3 inches deep at the deepest point, require no lifeguards anduse and discard city water into the city’s rain water drain system,requiring no chlorine treatment.

Spray parks can also operate longer than swimming pools, Reidsaid. They can be available for at least six months out of the year- whenever the weather is warm – while swimming pools are usuallyonly open during the three months of summer.

“The parks are a little under $100,000 each, which won’t evenbuy the fencing for a swimming pool,” he said. “If you built just asmall swimming pool, you’re looking at least $500,000, plus dailymaintenance, life guards and staff. With spray parks, you go fromsix to eight people to none.”

The spray parks aren’t just concrete and water – they utilizetechnology. Reid said the parks have a computer control system thatallows them to be activated for 15-minute intervals by pressing apublic-accessible button, meaning visitors can press and repress totheir heart’s content. The park will shut down when they leave,cutting down on operation cost and waste.

Reid said the parks also have light sensors that will prohibitthem from operating after dark.

“When they’re not being used, it doesn’t cost you anything,” hesaid. “You can’t just go by and push the button and have it run allday.”

Best of all – from the children’s point of view – the sprayparks require no admission. The are being built and operatedentirely with city funds.

“The city had to put up 100 percent of the money because therewere no grants available this year,” Reid said. “We can add ontothese. We can go several different ways with them if grants becomeavailable.”