Recreation Bond Projects: Part One
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
White Rock has received several new additions over the years from the visitor center to the new branch library. It may receive another new feature, if voters pass the $20 million general obligation bond in May. A splash pad is one of five proposed projects the bond would help fund.
During its regular meeting Feb. 14, County Council approved a special election for the bond. The special election is a mail-in ballot the County Clerk’s Office will send out May 2 to registered voters. The ballots must be received in the County Clerk’s Office by 7 p.m. May 23.
If voters approve the bond, Council anticipates utilizing up to $13.4 million of Capital Improvement Project funds in order to supplement the bond. The projects also include a recreation center, softball field improvements, multi-generational pool and improvements to the golf course.
The splash pad would be located at Pinon Park in White Rock, across from Smith’s grocery store on Sherwood Boulevard. The new facility would include several water features as well as shade structures, a pump house, prefabricated changing stalls, miscellaneous furnishings and a cistern for water reuse for irrigation. There also would be some landscaping involved in the project.
Out of all five of the potential projects, the splash pad is the least expensive, Deputy Public Works Director Jon Bulthuis said. He said it is projected to cost $720,000. The cost to maintain and operate the splash pad is estimated to total $37,000 per year.
Bulthuis added that right now there is just a preliminary design for the splash pad. The final design process, he explained, “would have the information necessary for the County to put the project out to bid.”
If the bond gets approved, work on the design process would probably take three to six months to complete and construction is roughly estimated to take the same amount of time. It is not yet determined what the order for the projects to be constructed will be. Also, the construction season needs to be considered. For example, it will not be built in the winter because materials for a splash pad require warm weather to construct.
Bulthuis said the splash pad would be seasonal although it is not yet determined what the schedule would be; however, he said the schedules for the community’s outdoor pools are being looked at.
He added the splash pad would operate similarly to a conventional County park; the County would be responsible for making sure the functional pieces of it are operating correctly but there will be no County staff providing supervision at the site.
Public Works Department Director Philo Shelton explained County staff would check splash water disinfection levels and do some cleaning at the site. This; however, would not be a full time job.
Shelton said the water that is used at the splash pad would be collected and recirculated; it would go through filters and get disinfected like a mini-pool system. The filter would need to be backwashed and that backwashed water would be sent to the cistern for irrigation.
In considering locations for the splash pad, Bulthuis said there were two under consideration: Ashley Pond and Pinon Park. Pinon Park was chosen because it has more amenities nearby such as restrooms adjacent to the site as well as space for changing stalls.
“That site just works better for the scale of a project like this,” he said.
There is a desire for the bond to be an investment throughout the County, not just in Los Alamos, Bulthuis said. A splash pad has been discussed in the past, Bulthuis said. According to the Los Alamos bond projects website, in October Council directed staff to update the concept and estimate for the splash pad.
Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division Manager Chris Williams said several years ago the Parks and Recreation Board was approached by a White Rock resident who had visited a splash pad while on vacation and recommended putting one in town.
Williams said the board thought it was a great idea although a splash pad was never put on the County’s list of capital improvement projects list. However, the project was brought up again during a public input meeting held in July. “It continued to be brought up and discussed,” Williams said.
“It’s a nice outdoor summer destination,” Bulthuis said. “There’s really isn’t anything of that nature in the county parks right now. It provides another option, another alternative for summer recreation.”
Bulthuis said so far, based on conversations at booths the County has hosted at different public events, the community’s support for the splash pad is strong. “There was generally strong support with young families for this type of amenity,” he said.
Family Strengths Network Executive Director Carrie Fanning agreed. She said a number of families that utilize Family Strengths Network have lived elsewhere and their former communities offered things that do not exist in Los Alamos. A splash pad, Fanning said, is one of those things.
While Fanning said she cannot speak for all families, she said some look forward to having a splash pad.
Fanning added that with the laboratory bringing in new employees and these new employees bringing their young families into town, “I think it’s important for us to have a community where young families feel welcomed.”
Although Los Alamos offers some things for young families, “they’re limited,” Fanning said.
The other benefit offered by a splash pad, she said, is “it’s a place for young families to meet.” They can connect with one another and having these connections will encourage young families to stay in town, Fanning said.
First Born Program Manager Molly McBranch said First Born works with more than 60 families and the universal statement is that families want easy access to facilities close to home that are inexpensive and stimulating.
First Born Program Manager Kim Ferguson added, families “need opportunities to get out of the house and need opportunities to meet other families.”
Water is great for a child’s development, she said. McBranch pointed out that it is very tactile and stimulating for children.
For more information about the splash pad or any of the other projects included in the bond, visit https://losalamosbondprojects2017.com