Water playground planned for Snyder Park

Private group wants to raise $250,000 to pay for new spray ground.

The Friends of Snyder Park group has begun raising funds for a spray ground and hopes to have construction completed by 2014.

A spray ground, also known as a splash pad, is an area for water play with no standing water. The pads use ground nozzles controlled by motion sensors that spray water upwards, allowing people to run and play in the water.

National Trail Parks and Recreation District Chief Executive Officer Leann Castillo said a spray ground would be a great addition to the park.

“It’s another free option,” Castillo said.

Spray grounds are cost-effective and safer for children. With no standing water, there is no risk of drowning, and the grounds eliminate the needs for lifeguards.

It’s also cost-effective for the parks department. Funds will be raised through fundraisers and other grants, according to Friends of Snyder Park steering committee member Ann Collier.

“The city and the county only have so much money for park maintenance,” Collier said.

Castillo estimated the water bill for a 1,600 square foot spray ground would cost approximately $5,000 per year and would be provided by the city of Springfield. The park would also be able to stay open longer than Splash Zone.

The Friends of Snyder Park is a non-profit group formed to 2009 to preserve, promote and enhance the 122-acre park, which was created in 1895.

“In its heyday, people were there all the time,” Collier said. “The amenities have taken a beating over the last 100 years. It’s our job to try to upgrade and make things nice as possible for the public.”

Castillo said installing a spray ground is a project that’s always been on her radar. The Friends of Snyder Park said they wanted to build a signature project, and out of discussions came the idea for a spray ground. The group toured other spray grounds throughout the area and decided it would be a great amenity for the park.

“We really don’t have anything like that around here,” Castillo said. “It’s a popular. I’d love to have them everywhere if we could.”

Collier said the spray ground will fill the void left by the Municipal Pool, which was located on Bechtle Ave. near Snyder Park. Castillo said the spray ground would likely be open until mid-September, nearly a month after Splash Zone closes for the season. It also provides an alternative to swimming in the nearby whitewater areas, which have been deemed dangerous and have caused problems for local police and the NTPRD.

“It gives people in a different section of town a nice water attraction,” Collier said.

The group will kick off fund-raising efforts with a 5K run/walk on Sept. 29 in the park. Cost is $20 until Sept. 14 and $25 after. Registration includes a T-shirt and post-race refreshments.

They hope to acquire the funds over the next 18 months and have construction completed by 2014. Collier said construction could take about four months.

Castillo said officials also are working with the Springfield Conservancy District to clean up the lagoons in the park.

“We’re still working on that,” Castillo said.