Grand Junction’s downtown splash pad to remain closed due to safety concerns
Shrieks of laughter quieted on Main Street a week after downtown’s interactive splash pad closed indefinitely due to health concerns. This free, kids-friendly water fountain found at the corner of Main and Fifth streets still operates, but it’s surrounded by metal fencing.
According to City of Grand Junction parks and recreation director Rob Schoeber, since opening in 2011 the popular splash pad has been “loved to death” by its users, primarily young families during daytime hours. The water fountain was created during Main Street’s extensive redesign completed four years ago as a “decorative” place to cool off, not as a long-term, high-capacity play area. Other concerns spanned disruption to downtown businesses and the risk of children running into traffic.
“The original intention for the splash pad on Main Street was to provide an attractive water feature for downtown with limited interactive use,” Downtown Development Authority executive director Harry Weiss said in a news release. “Instead it has become a very intensively used, recreational water feature better suited to a traditional park location.”
Schoeber added that downtown’s splash pad was designed to accommodate 10-15 kids at a time, not the 50-60 children it held at once on hot days.
“The decision revolved around health and safety,” Schoeber continued, noting water/chemical levels are periodically out of balance due to perpetual overuse. “Water continually recirculates; it’s similar to having a bath where people use the same water. … We felt that at any time we could be in jeopardy with water chemicals. If we made one child sick, it wasn’t worth it.”
CandyTime Shoppe and Novelties, located near the splash pad at 500 Main St., so far experienced little change in customer traffic since the shutdown last week. Even so, Jane Panter, a CandyTime clerk, said the closure “is sad for the kids,” and parents should have been given more notice about the change in splash pad use.
Grand Junction City Council approved immediate closure of the interactive water fountain at their June 30 work session. On July 1, the fountain was fenced off to play.
Schoeber noted hearing the same sentiment from many disappointed families over the past week, but he stands by the decision.
“That’s how we deal with all safety issues,” he explained. “If one piece of playground equipment is broken, we take it out of service right away” rather than keeping it open to use until a replacement can be installed.
LINCOLN PARK OFFERS FREE PLACE TO PLAY
Grand Junction’s kids still have a free place to splash, despite the fountain closure on Main Street. Lincoln Park’s splash pad, which was designed for high-capacity play, is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day. Users no longer need to pay for pool access to use the fountain. Schoeber said this went into effect when downtown’s splash pad closed as a way to ease disappointment and perpetuate Grand Junction’s family friendly appeal.
“There’s great parking, restrooms nearby, concessions, and space to sit down under shade,” he said.
In the meantime, plans are in the works to build permanent fencing around downtown’s splash pad for better enjoyment of the water feature by pedestrians. Lincoln Park’s splash pad will also get new fencing to separate it from the pool area.
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