News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 12, 2014

City bands together to fund splash park

$200K in donations brings project to reality, bypassing need for tax money

PARIS, Ill. — A $200,000 park project in Paris, Illinois, promises a big splash for local residents.

The groundbreaking for a splash park saw earth turned at the West Twin Lakes Park to provide a public fun spot for families to cool off during hot weather.

While the groundbreaking was Monday, actual construction will not begin until all parts and pieces for the splash park arrive during the coming two weeks.

“The target date is to have it open by July 4,” said Steve Blair of Feutz Contractors, which is building the attraction.

“Hopefully,” Blair added, “it will enhance the park for families by giving them another thing to do.”

“It’s a great project for our community, especially this year,” Paris Mayor Craig Smith told the Tribune-Star before the groundbreaking. “We’re looking at quality-of-life projects, and especially when this is not taxing the public, but coming from donations. It’s a wonderful project to show how the public and private sectors can work together.”

Smith credited corporate sponsor North American Lighting with being the first industry to commit to the project by donating $25,000 as a platinum sponsor, and with getting the fundraiser going.

The Splash Park is designed as a zero-depth water-play area accessible to all people — regardless of their abilities — and will be free to the public. It will complement the existing park facilities which include miniature golf, a playground, pavilions and lake. The City of Paris will assume responsibility for maintenance.

Smith said that future plans also call for reopening the public beach at the lake as a no-lifeguard, swim-at-your-own-risk recreational area.

“We don’t have a community pool,” Smith said, “but we’re trying to bring back Twin Lakes as it was years ago, when it had an amusement park and a public beach. This splash park is the first of many projects to do out there.”

The fundraising took only seven months to reach the $200,000 goal -- thanks to the generosity of businesses and the public.

In early October at a joint meeting of the Paris Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, a representative from Danville, Illinois, explained how that city raised funds to build its own spray park. The Paris groups used that Danville model to set up a splash park committee with a fundraising goal of $200,000 by 2015.

North American Lighting quickly came on board with the project, with the goal of opening the new facility this summer as an amenity for its employees. The company is adding 600 new jobs, and wanted the employees to have something for their children to do soon. That moved the opening date up to July 4, and Smith said the opening date is appropriate and should be an easily reached target for a grand opening.

The construction contract was awarded to Feutz for $180,080 — and a feature designed for toddlers was added for an additional $13,500. Benches will be purchased with the remaining funds.

Blair said water in the splash park will not flow continuously, but will be activated by people who enter the splash zone. When no one is there, water flow will cease.

“There is minimal maintenance to it,” Blair said.

Among the water fun features are a toddler area, sprayers and water cannons for older children, ground sprayers and circular sprayers.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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