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Recreation commission to decide on possible fee for use of new Columbia Park water feature

Recreation commission to decide on possible fee for use of new Columbia Park water feature

Leobardo Hernandez Jr., 6, and Gloria Hernandez, 5, enjoy the Broadway Water Park in June. The Columbia Water Park is expected to open in April 2010.


POSTED August 14, 2009 9:03 p.m.
The Turlock Park, Recreation and Community Commission expects to cut the ribbon on a new water feature at Columbia Park in April 2010. The water feature will be an aquatic play area for kids, similar to the one at Broadway Park, but unlike Broadway Park, families might have to pay to use the Columbia Park water feature during certain hours.
Rick Harden, public facilities maintenance manager, led a presentation about the progress of the feature at the Park, Recreation and Community Commission meeting on Wednesday. The vendor who created the Broadway Park water feature submitted sketches of the proposed tropical theme aquatic playground at Columbia Park. The Parks department has two possible locations for the new feature.
The first possible location is 20 feet north of the new playground at Columbia Park. The feature would take a “free form” shape around the trees in the park. Harden said that this sort of open structure might discourage West Side residents from paying the $1 fee to use the Columbia Park pool.
“The idea behind the Columbia Park is that it gives these kids a chance to learn how to swim. If they choose to use the free water feature they won’t learn to swim,” Harden said.
Another option that Harden proposed to the Commission was placing the water feature right next to the pool and fencing it in, with a gate connecting the pool and the water feature. Swimmers who pay the dollar or have a free pool pass can use the pool and the water feature between noon and 3:30 p.m. Before and after that time, the gate between the pool and the water feature would be closed, and another gate would be open to allow the public access to the water feature for free.
Commissioner Desiree Silva expressed concern over charging to use the water feature. She said that parents would not pay for their children to use the pool or the water feature during swim time if they could use it for free before noon or after 3:30 p.m.
“My mom would have just told me to play in the sprinklers for a few hours and wait,” Silva said.
The location of the water feature will be decided once the approximate size, shape, and cost of the feature is determined. The feature will then go out to bid. The water park will be paid for with $200,000 of Redevelopment Agency money and $200,000 of Community Development Block Grant funding.
The new water play area will include a timer system that users have to activate to turn the water on. This cuts down on water waste, since the water will only be running while the feature is in use. The timer only supplies water to the spray features during the park’s official hours of operation. This timing system was installed at Broadway Park when it opened, due to neighbor concerns about noise from the water feature. Neighbors also voiced concerns over the Broadway Park water feature becoming a bathing spot for the homeless. Harden said that to his knowledge there has not been a problem with homeless people using the water feature.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003

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