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Delays, lack of funds hamper SprayGround

IRONTON — Design delays along with lulls in utility clearances and fundraising efforts have the proposed water SprayGround in downtown Ironton feeling a little parched.

So dry in fact, that a much-anticipated July 4 kick-off has been scrapped. Instead organizers are now shooting for a mid-August opening.

“Much of the process has lasted way longer than it should have,” said Rick Jansen, Friends of Ironton co-founder whose group is organizing, drafting and funding the 21st century water playground called Friends Park.

Jansen said the changes in design by the architectural firm responsible for the design and construction problems with American Electric Power have delayed even turning over a single pile of dirt on the proposed 1,200 square-foot lot located at the corner of Second and Vernon streets.

Further, Jansen admitted that a lack of organized fundraising has hindered the estimated $125,000 cost of the SprayGround. To date, a little less that $8,000 has been raised.

Jansen hopes that soon changes.

On Thursday, Friends of Ironton rolled out its printed fundraising literature for the engraved brick pathway it will be installing at the SprayGround. Personalized bricks that range from $100 to $5,000 will be located in prominent locations throughout the park.

“Friends” bricks that are (4”x8”) are $100; “Good Friends Pavers” that are (12”x12”) are $1,000; “Great Friends Pavers” that are (16”x16”) are $2,500 and “Best Friends Pavers” that are (24”x24”) are $5,000.

No tax dollars will be used in construction of the park.

When complete, the Friends of Ironton will deed the SprayGround “without cost” to the city of Ironton under the umbrella of its recreation department.

Jansen said he hopes to have some sort of movement on the site by June 8.

SprayGrounds are playgrounds 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.

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

Annual maintenance costs are expected to be only $3,000 that 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.

When complete, the SprayGround will be open during daylight hours through the first week of October. It will be free of charge.

An innovated 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.

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

Information on purchasing a memorial brick for the SprayGround can be found by calling (740) 532-9755. Donations can be mailed to Friends of Ironton, ATTN: Brick Pathway, P.O. Box 448, Ironton, OH 45638.