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Muskego considers cost of making a splash with new water attraction

Jan. 18, 2013

Muskego - A splash pad water play area would cost roughly $751,426 over a 15-year period including $475,000 for the initial installation, a Muskego parks study showed.

A splash pad - a paved area where children run through fountains and showers and are doused from water cannons - is on the Muskego Parks and Recreation Department's long range list of plans.

Donovan Winter, a recreation department intern, conducted the feasibility study that included a community survey to test interest in a splash pad.

Revenue-maker attraction

Of the 369 respondents, 67 percent said they would probably visit a splash pad very frequently or often. Of those, a majority said they would be willing to pay a $2 fee, Winter told the Muskego Parks and Recreation Board last week.

Another possible revenue source might be selling concessions - 52 percent of respondents said they would buy snacks and treats at a splash pad, Winter said.

Renting the splash pad out for parties also might help with expenses. About 48 percent of respondents said they could be interested in renting it. In fact, New Berlin and Portage, two communities that are working toward creating splash pads expect shelter rentals to be a good source of revenue, Winter said.

The board applauded Winter for his thoroughness, even exploring concessions, fees and renting the splash pad as potential sources of operating revenue.

Where to put it

The feasibility study's other major recommendation is that Veterans Park across from City Hall, S8200 Racine Ave., would probably be the best place for a splash pad.

The study actually recommended four potential splash pad locations. The three other potential sites are Park Arthur, W17833 College Ave.; Moorland Park, S7105 Moorland Road; and Bluhm Farm Park, W13607 McShane Drive.

Veterans Park is the leading contender because it has access to water and electricity, good public access off of Racine Avenue and Pioneer Road and it's near the Police Station, so vandalism potential is less likely, Winter said.

But it does have its drawbacks. It would need more parking spaces to prevent people from taking spots in the City Hall parking lot, he noted. Also it would be on land used by the annual Muskego Fest, so some vendors would need to relocate.

Veterans Park would be fine for the recirculating type of splash pad, the system recommended, but not for the flow through type of splash pad system. The flow through would discharge up to 50,000 gallons of water, and there is no solution for what to do with it at Veterans Park, Winter said.

The selling points for Park Arthur include its shelter, restrooms, plenty of parking, sewer and water availability, Winter said.

He said Park Arthur's limiting factors include that there might not be enough parking with the athletic events to be held there, and the only suitable location is space planned for a hockey rink. Also, the park isn't centrally located. And, if the flow-through splash pad system is chosen, it would have to rely on a well, which may not provide enough water.

Moorland Park has all the necessary utilities, is near a centralized population near Janesville and Moorland roads. The main limiting factor is that the parking overflow lot is across Moorland Road, posing a potential safety hazard, he said.

Bluhm Farm Park has pretty much everything - parking, utilities, a shelter, restrooms, even a playground. What it doesn't have is much space for a splash pad, Winter said.

Other feasible elements

Although an estimate of the likely lifespan of splash pads is not in the feasibility study, Craig Anderson, parks and recreation director, speculated they last at least 15 years, if not 20.

"The board will revisit this issue at a later meeting," and then will decide how to proceed, Anderson said after the meeting. One factor that it will likely consider is that 83 percent of respondents said that one or more family members already use aquatic facilities.

Currently, indoor aquatics programs have been offered in Franklin in a partnership arrangement dating from 2004, Winter said. Since 2007, outdoor swimming lessons have been offered at the Muskego County Park. Finally, the Southwest Aquatics Team offers programs at the Muskego High School pool.

AT A GLANCE

The splash pad feasibility study recommended the recirculating type of splash pad over the flow through system. The recirculating system recirculates chlorinated water through a filtered closed loop system. The flow through type is hooked up to water and then discharges the water into storm sewers or into irrigation systems. The flow through systems use up to 50,000 gallons a day, boosting its operating costs, although initial installation is much less than the recirculating system.

The study compared costs:

INSTALLATION: $475,000, recirculating; $300,000 flow through

ANNUAL OPERATING COST: $13,821, recirculating; $54,921, flow through

15-YEAR COST INCLUDING INSTALLATION: $751,426, recirculating; $1,398,419, flow through

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