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Water playground coming to Ironton

IRONTON — Parents seeking to beat the heat and entertain their kids at the same time will not have to look very far in the months ahead.

That is because Lawrence County’s first ever SprayGround – a 21st century water playground – will be opening in downtown Ironton this summer.

Drafted and funded by the non-profit community group “Friends of Ironton,” the 1,200 square-foot SprayGround will be built and located on an empty lot near the corner of Second and Vernon streets at what is being called Friends Park.

The water playground is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. July 4.

Construction is scheduled to start this month. The lot has already been scraped for construction. The Friends of Ironton purchased the vacant lot in December.

SprayGrounds are play grounds with water features and are sometimes referred to as aquatic playgrounds, splash pads, water playgrounds or water play areas.

They are designed to be safe and unique play areas where water is sprayed from structures or ground sprays and then drained away before it can accumulate.

Unlike a pool, they create an environment that children of all ages and abilities can enter with equal enthusiasm.

SprayGrounds are becoming more and more popular with cities as they have the ability to provide water at a vastly lower cost than a traditional pool with little wasted water. Plus, the layout and spray schedule can be changed year to year for different variations.

Further, with no standing water, even very small children can play freely.

Ironton has been without a public swimming pool for several years when Ironton Municipal Pool closed because of its constant structural problems.

The proposed SprayGround has a zero-depth entry on a “poured-in-place” textured concrete surface and is ADA accessible.

The facility will use re-circulated, chemically treated water from a 3,000 gallon reservoir located on site.

The park will also have grassy areas for children and families, flagpoles and a drinking fountain.

Friends of Ironton co-founder Rick Jansen said the SprayGround is something the city of Ironton needs in its goal of rehabilitating the downtown area.

“The Friends of Ironton are excited to bring a SprayGround to Ironton. With the support of donations (from) our citizens this will become a reality,” Jansen said.

“We hope that this becomes a place for family activities.”

Totally funded through donations and fundraisers, Jansen said the proposed cost of the SprayGround should be around $125,000.

Besides its current fundraising, the Friends of Ironton will be selling engraved bricks that range from $100 to $5,000 and will be located in prominent locations throughout the park.

“For $100 people can purchase a (4” x 8”) brick and have their name permanently attached to this project. This really shows community support,” Jansen said.

No tax dollars will be used in construction of the park. The Friends of Ironton are currently in discussion with the city about the water needed for the SprayGround.

Jansen said one of the goals for the SprayGround is for the city to take over the property and operations after construction.

Annual maintenance costs are expected to be only $3,000 which includes both the water and electricity needed to operate the SprayGround.

The SprayGround isn’t for everyone. Dogs aren’t welcome in the area because they can create unwanted mess or damage some of the facilities. Everyone else is invited — but the Spray Ground is mostly geared to children.

It will have capacity for 60 children and will be open during daylight hours from Memorial Day through the first week of October. It will be free of charge.

“One of our main goals is to have the kids buy into the idea that this is their property,” Jansen said.

Jansen said a “very cool” feature of the proposed SprayGround is the use of motion sensors to activate the water and that the facility will contain a computer-controlled lightning strike service that will shut down the water when lightning is at least seven miles away.

The facility will have ample parking and rocks and benches to sit on which mother-of-four Julie Carey says can take the ease off a very hot and humid summer afternoon.

“My kids are going to love it,” Carey, 25, said. “My two oldest are not that fond of pools, but love the water. This will be perfect for them.”

Information on purchasing a memorial brick for the SprayGround can be found by calling (740) 532-9755.