Splash pad proposed at Royal Oak’s Grant Park

CDBG funds could be tapped to pay for play area, picnic shelter

By: Heidi Roman | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 1, 2012

 At the 2010 opening of the Heritage Park Splash Pad in Farmington Hills, Nicole Labadie of Lyon Township ran through one of the water-spraying features. A proposal in Royal Oak suggests using CDBG funding to build a splash pad in Grant Park.

At the 2010 opening of the Heritage Park Splash Pad in Farmington Hills, Nicole Labadie of Lyon Township ran through one of the water-spraying features. A proposal in Royal Oak suggests using CDBG funding to build a splash pad in Grant Park.

File photo by Andrew Potter

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ROYAL OAK — On a hot summer day, the Heritage Park Splash Pad in Farmington Hills is a popular place for families.

Royal Oak residents could have their own place to cool down in warm weather as early as 2013, if a proposal to build a splash park and two picnic shelters in Grant Park is approved.

The Rehabilitation Board of Appeals will host a public hearing in late February to get input on a proposal to use Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to build a splash pad water park and pavilions at the north side of the park, located on Fourth Street.

A splash pad is a concrete slab with various components that spray water in different directions, but has no standing water. Some nozzles spray water upward, while other features shower water downward or in an arc, either running continuously or activated by sensors. The water is recycled and treated as swimming pool water is.

“People in Royal Oak want some type of water park,” said resident Jay Dunstan of Volunteer Royal Oak. “That was expressed when (the city) did the master plan. They wanted a pool, and right now a pool is just not viable.”

A splash pad is significantly cheaper than a public pool and has the added benefit of being accessible for residents in wheelchairs, Dunstan said.

Dunstan said he has been overwhelmed by residents’ positive response to the proposal.

Recreation Director Tod Gazetti agreed that an outdoor water facility is one of the top amenities on residents’ wish list. The cost has always been the obstacle. And a splash pad is not only cheaper than a public pool but requires less maintenance, Gazetti said.

“It is literally the new type of outdoor playground,” he said. “The kids can have an outdoor water feature and play on anywhere between 10 and 15 elements.”

Gazetti said other splash parks in nearby cities are very popular and become
recreation destinations. By building a picnic shelter or pavilion, the city could get revenue for maintenance from rentals for family picnics, birthday parties, school outings and other events.

“We have four picnic shelters in the city of Royal Oak currently, and all four of them pretty much sell out on the weekend,” Gazetti said. “So the demand for the picnic shelter is there, too.”

Preliminary plans estimate the splash pad would cost $450,000-$500,000, and some private sponsorship is being explored in addition to the CDBG funding.

CDBG funding is distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is meant for a wide range of development needs. It can’t be used to fund city services, though senior services are an exception.

The funding is split into two categories: services or community development. A splash pad would fall under the community development component.

The Rehabilitation Board of Appeals tentatively supported the plans but will hold a public hearing on the plans later this month. The proposal would then move on to the City Commission for approval. The Rehabilitation Board is a recommending body, but does not have decision-making authority. HUD would also have to approve the plans.

“Hopefully early spring or late winter of 2013, we’d break ground and get this going,” Dunstan said. “We’re hoping this passes.”

Farmington Hills opened its Heritage Park Splash Pad in 2010. Also nearby, Red Oaks Waterpark, Metro Beach Metropark, St. Clair Shores’ Veterans Memorial Park, the Warren Community Center and Grosse Pointe Farms Pier Park have similar attractions. The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township has an interactive pop-jet fountain that kids can run through.
 

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