Cottage Grove, MN, has opened the city’s latest amenity at Highlands Park – a Splashpad® from Vortex, the industry leader in aquatic playground and urban landscape solutions. Replacing the swimming pool which was shut down last Autumn, the Splashpad® offers inclusive play with low capital and maintenance costs.
Council Member Justin Olsen said that it is, “good to have families bond in nature by utilizing all our park’s resources. Hopefully we’ll see continued use with the possibility of expanding to other parks.”
Initial reactions to the Splashpad®, for which admission is free, have been positive from parents:
Sarah Bradley said, “I used the pool when I was a kid and I was sad to see it go, but I love the fact I don’t have to worry about my child drowning and she’s having a blast running through the ground sprays."
Nadia Dessouki’s kids were among the first to play: "They love it! I can’t get them out of there!" Whereas the swimming pool, “was just a pool – kids nowadays need new and improved everything…Here, you don’t have to worry — no one will drown…This is better than several water parks that I have paid $7 per person for"
Low maintenance costs
Cottage Grove’s old swimming pool cost the city around $75, 000 a year in staff costs, insurance and maintenance. The Splashpad® has almost no ongoing operational costs.
In terms of staffing for the swimming pool, several lifeguards were required as well as locker room workers at all times. However, no staff are required for a Splashpad® – children turn on the water themselves by touching raised switch-pads and the water turns off after five minutes. The park also shuts itself down when it rains.
Whereas, the pool was a significant insurance liability with the risk of drowning or injuries from diving, a Splashpad® with no standing water has an insurance premium similar to that of a playground.
Because the Splashpad® is operated by visitors, the season will be longer than for the swimming pool, opening daily between May and September from 9 am to 9 pm. By contrast the swimming pool was open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
One of the few expenses for the Splashpad® is the cost of blowing out the pipes in the fall, to prevent burst pipes in the winter freeze.
Low capital cost
The Splashpad® has proved to be a cost effective option for the city, costing just $465, 000 compared to millions of dollars for a new swimming pool.
The Splashpad is also accessible to people who use wheelchairs or have difficulty walking. Park and Recreation Director Zac Dockter says, "It’s a great way to get people from all walks of life together — that’s what a community is all about.”