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Council kicks in $500 for splash pad promotion

Fundraising committee to recruit help at June 29 Music on Main

SOLON– City council members agreed to prime the pump.
A splash pad committee is seeking to raise over a half-million dollars for a municipal water playground at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area, and the city has agreed to contribute $500 to help boost upcoming fundraising efforts.
The decision was made at the city council’s June 15 meeting.
The volunteer effort dates back to a 2012 survey of residents conducted by the Solon Parks and Recreation Commission seeking guidance for possible capital park improvements.
Splash pad committee members are expected to conduct a number of fundraisers to support the project beginning later this summer.
“I was just so impressed with these folks,” said City Administrator Cami Rasmussen, who attended her first committee meeting the previous week. “What they’ve done, with not one penny, has really been just amazing to me.”
Rasmussen said the committee members had some great ideas, including this year’s major event, a family fun run which has been tentatively targeted for the end of August. The group will attempt to spread the word and recruit volunteers at the June 29 Music on Main, she said, and wants to host a Jenga® tournament and a popsicle walk.
Although the splash pad organizers have raised approximately $5,000 so far, Rasmussen said, they’re reluctant to dip into the money for fundraising expenses.
The council members unanimously approved the request for $500, which will come from the Parks and Recreation Department budget.
A splash pad is an aquatic play area with no standing water, typically featuring nozzles spraying into the air. It was identified as the top response in a 2012 online survey that was emailed out to parents of elementary and middle school students in the Solon Community School District, and to families who had enrolled previously in park and recreation programming.
Over 200 people responded to the survey.
In mid-2015, the Parks and Recreation Commission sent out an informational letter to over 3,000 households and asked for contributions, but since then, the volunteer splash pad committee was formed.
The committee, with assistance from Outdoor Recreation Products of Ames and Stanley Consultants, Inc., developed conceptual art for marketing purposes and has a potential location at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
The city has assisted the committee with numerous resources, Rasmussen said, and will continue to help, especially in the area of grant writing and in-kind contributions.
Council member Mark Prentice, who serves as liaison with the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the core group of the committee is enthusiastic, but maybe a little frustrated at the lack of progress.
“Hopefully some of the younger families can get involved as well,” Mayor Steve Stange noted.
“We’ve made that pitch, and it’s fallen on deaf ears so far,” council member Steve Duncan said.
Duncan, who has previous experience with large capital campaigns, said there doesn’t seem to be enough support in the community to complete the project without significant financial contribution from the city.
“It’s going to take somebody with big checkbooks to do this,” he said. “You’re not going to do it through candy bar sales and a lot of other things. It’s a big-ticket item.”
The public is aware of the campaign, he said. The committee and the weekly newspaper have done a good job of getting the word out.
“I think people understand where we’re going and what we’re doing,” Duncan said.
The overall project includes a splash pad area (about 50 feet in diameter) and a building for restrooms with adequate changing area, and a lean-to, open air shelter area coming off the building. The building will also include the mechanical controls for the splash pad
The splash pad as presented back in March would be of the “pump and dump” style, meaning the water used for the features is not recycled, but could potentially be used to irrigate the area.
A lot of the water features are expected to operate on motion sensors. Seasonally, the splash pad could go through 1,000,000 gallons of water.
With all the legwork done, Duncan said, it’s time for people to step up to support the project.
“I would hope our interest would have been stronger at this point and time,” he said.
The reality, Duncan said, is that the city is not going to finance the construction of the splash pad. The funds will have to be raised locally.
“We need people to buy in to that effort,” he said.