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By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville Parks and Recreation Commission will seek the communityâ€™s input and support today during a public meeting concerning the construction of a new splash pad at J.L. King Park.
The commission is seeking to replace the parkâ€™s aging pool with a state of the art water play space that is popular in amusement parks around the country. Splash pads spray water up from the ground and from 3D features.
The public meeting will take place at 4 p.m. today in the pavilion at J.L. King Park. Hotdogs and hamburgers will be available.
â€śWe want the community to understand what weâ€™re doing â€” not just closing the pool. One of our goal is to have kids active and the pool is just not doing that. We feel like once the community sees our design, they will be supportive,â€ť SPR Director Matthew Rye said. â€śWeâ€™re very excited about it and, so far, weâ€™ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.â€ť
The park at J.L. King Park is more than 40 years old. Rye said low attendance makes justifying the poolâ€™s costly repairs and maintenance hard. By comparison, the Moncrief Park pool received more than 4,200 visitors over the last three summers, while J.L. Kingâ€™s pool saw only 900.
The splash pad will be free to the public, while the pool requires a small fee. Rye said the splash pad will be ideal for children of all ages. A section of the pad will have nozzles with water pressure and height that will be perfect for toddlers.
The splash pad project has been in the works for several years but Rye said the parks and recreation commission is now ready with both designs and funding to move ahead with the project. The project will cost approximately $150,000, but will require little maintenance.
Rye said he hopes to begin construction by the July 4 holiday, pending approval from the Starkville Board of Aldermen. The project will require three weeks of demolition and eight weeks of construction. If all goes smoothly, Rye said the project will be finished before the end of summer and, unlike the pools, the splash pad will remain open throughout September and October when the temperatures remain high.