LORAIN — It’s looking like a dry summer for the city’s pools, but that’s going to change by 2017.
Lorain’s Board of Control approved more than $45,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to replace Central Park’s broken pool with a modern splash pad.
“We’re really excited about all of it because our parks with pools haven’t gotten any real updates in a while,” said Lori Garcia, the city’s director of public properties. “It’s something new and different for the kids and while we don’t have any pools open this summer it’ll be a nice addition next year.”
The splash pad is expected to be to be 1,250 square feet with 18 holes, housing three spray nozzles in four groups. There also will be a separate “puddle” area with smaller sprays for toddlers.
“The pad will also be concrete with a rubber padding over it, so that way the surface is still firm, but if a child were to slip and fall they wouldn’t be as scraped up as if they had fallen on the sidewalk,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the decision to include a splash pad at the park, at the intersection of West 27th Street and Oakdale Avenue, is in part because of maintenance costs.
For the Central Park pool, Garcia said the city spent $12,000 in chemicals last year, and another $5,000 to $7,000 in order to get it ready to open.
“For the splash pad, we’ll spend about $500 to $800 on maintenance,” she said. “It’s a staggering difference.”
Additionally, the city will be able to control when the water that leads to the splash pad is off or on.
“There will be a button next to the splash pad for children or parents to push in order to activate the features,” Garcia said. “And we can control when that button is active so if the pad’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., people can’t turn on the features during the other times of the day.”
Linda O’Connor, administrative assistant for the Public Properties Department, said the pad also has a gear system that controls the water instead of the usual computer system.
“This way no child or anyone near the pad stands the chance of getting electrocuted or anything like that,” O’Connor said. ‘The company we’re contracting to install it, Foraker Enterprises, does all of their pads that way and it’s a great system.”
Construction on the splash pad won’t be able to begin until at least September because of block grant stipulations.
“Any time you use federal money to do a park project, you have to make sure there’s nothing historical or anything like that that could inhibit it,” Garcia said.
Due to the city’s $3.6 million budget deficit that has left some departments scrambling to make cuts, Parks and Recreation has opted to close both the Oakwood and Central Park pools for the summer.
“With what we needed to cut from our budget, it made sense,” Garcia said. “The financial obligation for pool maintenance is very expensive so we opted to close both pools.”
The Central Park pool also leaks and Garcia said it would cost more than $100,000 to replace it.
The splash pad is expected to be 50 feet away from where the pool is so the department can use the same water lines. City employees will demolish the pool, rather than contracting out the work, so Garcia said she isn’t sure of the cost yet.
“I won’t know how much it costs to demo the pool until after the man hours have already been put in,” she said.
Kellie Glenn, program manager for the Department of Building, Housing and Planning, said the splash pad will take up $45,238 of the block grant for this year, which is slightly over $1 million.
“We knew we wanted to spend some of the money on public facility improvements this year,” she said. “And this seemed like the perfect fit for that.”
Glenn said the grant money also is used toward fair housing, updating the zoning code and code enforcement, in addition to possible improvements at Oakwood Park, at East 21st Street and Grove Avenue.
“First things first over there we need to get the flooding to stop,” she said. “I grew up over there and it’s been doing it since I was a little girl, so before we can make any other improvements, we’re going to attempt to use grant funds to make that stop happening.”
Glenn said there’s also always the possibility for a splash pad at that park.
“What people don’t understand is how much cheaper it is,” she said. “As a city we want to provide the same or similar services to residents and if it’s cheaper to do it one way than another then that’s great.”