Pad Makes Its Splash

The St. Marys Community Splash Pad had its long-awaited grand opening on Monday at the High Street shelter house.
Managing Editor

It was a perfect day to take a splash and luckily, the St. Marys Community Splash Pad is open.

City officials, community members and former fourth-grade students from Kristy Guy's West Intermediate School class celebrated the grand opening of the project that has been years in the making.

And it all began with Guy's students. 

"This project began in 2016 as a project-based learning activity for my fourth-grade students at St. Marys West Intermediate School," Guy said. "The intent of the project was to have students gain knowledge and experience by working as a team with outside resources to achieve a common goal in the everyday world. This classroom project turned community project has come full circle for the students and myself. For four years, my class has worked with persistence, dedication and enthusiasm with the city. The learning and experience for the students and myself  is invaluable. We have learned well beyond the classroom walls. 

"I’m proud of my students — now entering eighth grade — and to have been involved with a community project for the city of St. Marys. It has been a memorable and lifelong learning experience for all involved. I hope the splash pad provides the children of St. Marys countless hours of fun for many years."

The project began when members of the St. Marys Parks and Playgrounds Committee met with Guy and her fourth-grade students three years ago. 

Her students had to pitch an idea of having a splash pad in city limits as they presented funding opportunities, a location, a design and other features. City officials, committee members and other city employees heard roughly five presentations.

Work on the splash pad began March 5, after a short delay to wait on materials and supplies to arrive, when the city received parts for the water supply line infrastructure before the coronavirus pandemic began. The city was approved for $100,000 from the state’s capital budget last year to help pay for the splash pad, but the project had to be done by the summer. That timeline was jeopardized because of the coronavirus, but the city was granted a one-year extension. The extension, in writing, gives the city until June 2021 to complete the project and submit all invoices up to $100,000. The city will eventually be reimbursed that money.

According to Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven, the construction and infrastructure of the splash pad will cost around $249,000 and the features was another $91,000 for a total of $340,000. As completed, the project ended up totaling to $350,000.

Shinn Brothers was the contractor for the project. The company had also constructed Celina’s splash pad.

"It was the effort of those fourth graders and I want to commend them, their teachers and their parents for encouraging them to be involved," Rep. Craig Riedel said. "Because there are lessons learned from this. … It is just a great life lesson.

"We live in the best part of Ohio. The longer I work in Columbus, I cherish the values and principles that we live by in this part of Ohio. We are so lucky and we are so fortunate."

The splash pad is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Labor Day. The pump and dump splash pad is activated by a pair of yellow poles and remain on for seven minutes. 

Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said seasonal help will be at the pad to make sure that the equipment is working and to help anyone who may need help using the features. The city is asking parents to help police the area so bicycles and skateboards are not riding on the pad for safety reasons and to remain off the fresh applied sod  — which was an extra $6,000 to put on last week — until it takes hold.

Foxhoven added that eventually, there will be benches around the pad — those will be paid for from the donations given to the project from the community.

For safety features, Foxhoven said there has been talk of adding a rod iron fence along the north side of the sidewalk on High Street from the bride to the shelter house drive entrance. 

"It will remove temptation from someone riding a bicycle rolling down the hill to the splash pad," Foxhoven said. "We may also put a decorative fence around the splash pad just to make it safe."

Four healing trees had to be removed from the splash pad. Three were damaged and will be replaced at no cost and one was moved to a different location by the shelter house.

Guy credited members of city councils and other city employees for taking on a project that was thought up by a class of 9-year-olds.

"They didn't know what to expect from us," Guy added. "Never once did they treat them as kids. They treated them as respected citizens of the community with valid ideas.

“The collaboration between the community and school district was very rewarding. I plan to continue to work with community resources in the future. On behalf of myself and my students, I want to thank the state of Ohio, the city of St. Marys, city council, as well as the numerous businesses and individuals who contributed to the splash pad project."