Splish Splash

With average temperatures hitting 89 degrees in the summer time, Jefferson City residents are often seeking relief from the heat. The city has many expansive public pools but sometimes we don’t want to go to the trouble of packing the kids up, slathering on sunscreen and wearing a bathing suit. A solution has arrived, Jefferson City’s first-ever splash park!

The proposed site would run alongside the Greenway Trail, adjacent to Lincoln University’s campus and behind a stretch of houses. The Community Park would consist of 1,200 square feet for the splash park and 2,000 square feet of dry space for an all-ages playground, restrooms and a multi-use pavilion for outdoor concerts. The free splash park will be outfitted with 25 spray features and will be operational (weather permitting) from May until October, extending the season by two months where residents can enjoy water activities outdoors.

Todd Spalding of the JC Parks & Rec Commission said, “I want everywhere in Jefferson City to be a 10-minute or less walk to a park.” Together with the Cultural Arts Foundation, East Side Family Activities Center and a community advocacy group, they put their ideas into action. Fundraising for a community park located in the heart of Jefferson City began in 2016 with the Ice Cream Splash event, an all-you-can-eat ice cream tasting fundraiser which attracted over 1300 attendees. After just three Ice Cream Splash events, they were able to reach their fundraising goal of $60,000 towards the splash area of the park. The Cultural Arts Foundation is also continuing to sell sponsor bricks that will be placed around the splash area and will underwrite more splash area amenities.

Other funding sources for the Community Park were secured with a grant from the Department of Natural Resources to create a Greenway entrance to the park, add bathrooms, parking, safety lighting and more. The Cultural Arts Foundation also secured a grant from the National Association of REALTORS® for a new pet friendly water fountain to be housed at the park. Central Bank, Ameren UE and Missouri American Water were also instrumental in meeting the fundraising goal. The project in total will cost close to $3 million.

The current Community Park is in desperate need of improvement and its history will be recognized in the construction of the new park. The proposed site design will have art pieces that illustrate the rich history of the Foot District which began as a group of black-owned businesses in the 1860s but was later claimed by urban renewal in the 1960s. The design of the new Community Park showcases the history of the park and neighborhood and offers elements to bring a diverse population together to participate in outdoor activities.

At the time of writing this article, the new Community Park construction should take 180 days and be completed around November 2019.