An owner of a child care ministry in Jamestown said Shirley R. Meidinger Splash Park serves a great purpose and is a welcoming addition to the community.
Lindsey Voeltz, owner of Solid Foundations Growing Center located in First United Methodist Church, brought her children and others -- ages 3 to 10 -- from the child care ministry to the Splash Park for the afternoon a couple of times a week and met her sister and mother there as well. She said the adults could rotate and take turns watching the children.
“We felt like it was a wonderful option this summer,” she said. “As a child care provider and as a parent, it serves a really great purpose. It is a great outlet for our kids.”
Attendance at the Splash Park was “very good,” according to Amy Walters, facility manager at Two Rivers Activity Center. She said more than 12,000 people attended the Splash Park from June 5 to Sept. 6 with an average daily attendance of 113 people.
“We felt good about that. It was an ideal summer for outdoor water,” she said. “Maybe not ideal for other things but it was really hot in the summer. Not very many cool rainy days so we were able to be open for a majority of the summer season.”
The Splash Pad inside the Splash Park is 6,500 square feet and includes water slides, water sprayers, dump buckets and other ways to get someone wet for play in the water. Walters said the park has four slides and 23 interactive features.
The Splash Park is part of TRAC, which is owned and operated by Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department. The Splash Park is about 77,000 square feet and is located north of the TRAC parking lot.
“This is the very first splash park for the Jamestown community,” said Doug Hogan, director of Jamestown Parks and Recreation. “It was very well received and very successful.”
A bulk of the Splash Park users were children younger than 8 years old, Walters said. She said the Splash Park targets a younger age group and did have some older youth attend as well.
Walters said the busiest times during the day were from 1 to 3 p.m. and after dinner hours in the evening. She said the slowest times were in the morning.
“We are taking a look at that and if that would be best served to maybe dedicate that time to special groups, private rentals, organizational events rather than just general open hours and maybe not open until later in the day,” she said.
An unexpected benefit of having the Splash Park was that it drove traffic inside TRAC, Walters said. TRAC had 10,500 visits in August compared to 5,300 in August 2020.
“I imagine because we were coming out of COVID last August,” she said. “ … I think what we saw was families coming up and spending the day. Sometime out in the Splash Park they transitioned into the building and kind of back and forth between all of those spaces. It definitely increased traffic in our building in the summer months, which are traditionally slower months for us.”
She said the first season was learning how to operate the park and seeing what the community is looking for. No decisions have been made for adjusting hours for the Splash Park or plans for staffing next year.
The designer of the park projected that the operational costs of the Splash Park are approximately $30,000 for 80 days of operation, according to TRAC’s website.
Walters said construction for the Splash Park is not fully complete. She said shipping delays slowed the project down, and staff were not able to put up shade shelters that could be rented for private events. The shade shelters will also be available for guest use when they are not rented for private events.
She said a couple of slides within the original design forced children off the padded area and modifications for the slides will be installed this fall.
“Lots of times within those projects like that it takes operating them to learn what modifications, what changes need to be made,” Walters said. “For us, we are going to wrap up those loose ends and work with the contractors to finish all that.”
She said the original concept for the Splash Park includes activity spaces such as volleyball and pickleball courts.
“We did receive an additional grant to support that work,” she said. “We will start having those conversations as far as what that’s going to look like. Hopefully all those plans will be in place so that we can get started right away next spring.”
Walters said the Splash Park includes space dedicated for an outdoor pool in the future.
“Whenever that future may be, it just really goes to determining a solution both for funding the construction of it but then supporting the ongoing operational expense of that as well,” she said.
She said there has been a lot of positive feedback about the Splash Park.
“It really met the desire of people to be able to be outside in the warm summer months to be able to have that outdoor water experience in a way that maybe the reservoirs and the lakes don't provide,” she said. “We have a lot of really great opportunities for swimming and boating and outdoor recreation. This is a bit of a different opportunity in that it is convenient and inexpensive, and I think it really met a need in our community.”