Friday, April 19, 2013

Ketchum to build $168K splash park

City to pay with law enforcement savings, donations

Express Staff Writer

This rendering shows what a recently approved splash park might look like at Atkinson Park, near Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum. Ketchum has secured $167,600 in funding to build the park.
Graphic courtesy of Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department

    The Ketchum City Council on Monday approved 3-0 the expenditure of $167,600 to build a 650-square-foot splash park—similar to Jimmy’s Garden in Hailey—for kids to enjoy during the summer months. Councilwoman Nina Jonas was not at the meeting.
    Construction of such a park has been on the city’s radar since 2005. Then-Director of Parks and Recreation Kirk Mason initiated the idea that year and raised $29,560 for the project from private donors between 2005 and 2009. According to City Clerk Sandy Cady, the city has spent $3,100 of that sum in planning the park.
    City documents state that development was “unfortunately tabled” due to the onset of the economic recession and Mason’s retirement in 2010.
    Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said a recent cash influx of about $141,000 to the city has allowed him to consider moving forward with the park. In February, Blaine County commissioners presented the city with a check in that amount as reimbursement for lower-than-expected costs since 2009 of operating the city’s Police Department.
    Hall said constructing a park for kids would be a great way to “leverage” the city’s money-saving decision regarding the Police Department. He also said he wants to honor the donations.
    Director of Parks and Recreation Jennifer Smith said that such a park is more expensive than other parks because the city must ensure that the water is safe and healthy.
    “Some users go in diapers,” she said.
    Parks and Natural Resources Superintendent Juerg Stauffacher said the park will be interactive, including buttons and sensors to activate the water features. He said that will also save water.
    Smith said the features will be “fully” capable of having kids run all over them.
    “How about grownups?” asked Councilman Michael David.
    Smith said that would be OK.
    “Just don’t streak through it,” Hall said.
    Stauffacher said in an interview after the meeting that the park could be completed as soon as the end of July.
    Mason thanked the council at the meeting for moving forward with the project.
    “I have some nights when I go to bed and think, ‘The money’s there. I hope people don’t think bad of me,’” he said, referring to the donations and the donors.

Brennan Rego:

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