ELKO – With a little ingenuity, a lot of fundraising and some help from the City of Elko, a splash park may be in Elko’s future.
When Brock Polish posted his idea of bringing a splash park to Elko on Facebook recently, he had more that 1,300 reactions and about 400 comments on the post.
Polish, an Elko native, attended graduate school in Rexburg, Idaho. While there, he and his family enjoyed spending endless hours at Porter Park where the City of Rexburg installed a splash park in 2007. The play area is geared for children ages 18 months to 12 years old.
According to Polish, it cost approximately $500,000 to build the facility along with the corresponding restrooms. The park has designated operating times when the water will flow with the push of a button. The park is very popular during the summer and stays open through September.
Polish gave a presentation to Elko City Council Tuesday about the possibility of building a splash park here.
“A splash park is a little bit different than a splash pad,” said Polish. “A splash pad is basically just a concrete pad with fountains in it. A splash park, which is way better, is basically park equipment that is getting sprayed with water.”
Polish showed an image of the splash park in Rexburg.
“A bucket of water fills up and dumps every so often,” he said. “Every half hour the water cuts off and little children run over to press it again, and, if not, it doesn’t use water. You don’t need lifeguards or personnel as long as you don’t have any pools of water.”
Polish provided a breakdown of the costs for such a facility in Elko, saying that it would be about $479,000.
“One of the big savings we would have in comparison to them is that they had to build bathrooms along with their pump house,” Polish said. “If it was built in an area that already had restrooms you would save a significant amount of money.”
Polish has been networking with local business owners to fund the project. He claims that at least 20 businesses have approached him about contributing to the project since his post on Facebook.
Polish is hoping the city can provide a suitable location.
Polish talked about money the city has spent in the past year for recreation and downtown improvement. He said the city lost $136,350 with the golf course. He said public golf courses rarely make money.
Polish also claimed the city spent $750,000 on three revitalization projects that took place in downtown Elko, including Centennial Tower.
City planner Cathy Laughlin later explained to Polish that the downtown revitalization funds come from tax revenue for the redevelopment district, a program that was begun in 2008.
Polish said maintenance for the splash park would cost about $15,000 per year. Funds could be recouped through hosting events and park rental fees.
Polish explained how a free splash park would be beneficial for all children and especially youths from lower income families.
“Sports are kind of expensive,” he said. “When I was 12 years old my dad lost his job and we could not pay for soccer that year. Luckily, the lady that was running the organization called and asked why and she paid for me to play. That was special. There are a lot of kids that won’t get that opportunity.”
“This would be an awesome thing for the city of Elko,” Polish said. “It would be something really fun on a summer day. It would make our city more attractive, too. One of the difficult things about a city is that we try to attract and retain good people to live in our community. This is a step toward making our community more family-friendly.”
Council members agreed.
“I think everyone in the community would support something like this,” said Mayor Reece Keener. “I think the Downtown Business Association has money set aside, if I am not mistaken, for a splash park.”
“There has been some discussion about a splash pad in Centennial Park,” said Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson.
“This is not a new subject,” said Councilwoman Mandy Simons. “I have had several people ask why we did not put one at Angel Park where there were tennis courts.”
Simons said she supported such a project.
“I think this is a great idea,” said Councilman Chip Stone. “The one we have by Petco [is busy] on a hot summer’s day.”