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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Splash park project 'on the map' now with initial financial backing

Friday, June 1, 2012

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Artist's rendering of planned splash park on old baby pool site at Greencastle Aquatic Center is by no means the final design, project organizers say.
A big splash is what members of the Greencastle Civic League had hoped to make with their proposed spray park project at Robe-Ann Park.

That splash, however, appears to be taking on cannonball-dive proportions, according to the latest report from project organizers. After all, it's been a virtual tidal wave of support for the splash park idea.

With two grants in hand, and more than $20,000 already pledged in private donations, the Civic League has now raised more than $50,000 for the project before even starting a corporate campaign or conducting the first fundraiser.

"This project's on the map now," stressed Emily Knuth. "This is going to happen. People are recognizing its importance to our community."

Knuth, the current president of the Greencastle Civic League, was joined by Suzanne Masten, vice president of the signature project for the organization, in recently updating the splash pad/spray park for the Banner Graphic.

They reported several items of good news for the project, which is scheduled for construction in the obsolete baby pool area at the Greencastle Aquatic Center.

First, the project now has the financial support of two grants -- a $24,000 Putnam County Community Foundation grant over three years (2012-14) and a one-time $5,000 grant from the PNC Bank Foundation.

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Although a final design has yet to be approved, the Splash Park project now has the funding to begin the planning process.
"We've raised $50,000 so far," Knuth said, combining the grant money with private donations to date.

The Civic League's membership also recently approved moving forward to work with the City of Greencastle and the Park Board to apply for up to $200,000 in grant funds from the Department of Natural Resources. Possibly as much as $150,000 of that would go directly to the splash park project.

"It would be such a great partnership with the city," Knuth said, noting that the spray park would ultimately become city property anyway, just as the Emerald Palace playground has.

"The Civic League doesn't want to be in a position of running the splash park," she smiled.

A $150,000 match will be needed for that DNR grant, which could include leveraging other grants and donations, as well as any in-kind pledges, particularly for such services as demolition, concrete and even general contracting duties, Knuth explained.

Overall, the project could run in the $250,000-$300,000 range, which would include a $12,000 endowment to be set aside for funding the maintenance and operation of the admission-free spray park.

Civic League will be kicking off fundraising for that endowment shortly with those funds raised going directly to ongoing maintenance and operations needs.

The project will include a recirculation system for water used, Masten said. While more expensive to install upfront, the recirculation system should provide cost savings in the long run.

"Water is expensive," she noted, adding that the recirculation system will all be subsurface like the pool system itself.

"I think we have a great plan in place," Masten said. "Hopefully next spring we will be sitting here talking about the design."

"And the opening," Knuth interjected.

The timetable ultimately will be determined by fundraising and grant availability, but a summer 2013 opening is still the goal.

"We find out in October about the (DNR) grant," Knuth said, adding that construction is expected to take only 30 days from start to finish.

"It'll be quick once we start," she added.

Meanwhile, the group is also looking into grants from such corporations as McDonald's and Subaru.

A corporate campaign, chaired by Amy Doan, is about to launch and is also a vital piece of the fundraising pie.

The Civic League plans to follow the model used in selling sponsorships of various elements of the Emerald Palace playground. At the splash pad, plaques or signage recognizing donors could be in the ground or on a wall.

Such elements as dump buckets, aqua flowers, spray arches and ground bubblers are examples of items that could generate individual corporate support to advance the overall financial status of the project.

Individual donors can go to the Greencastlecivicleague.org website and click on the splash park tab to make tax-deductible donation. Suggestions include the Leadership Level (Silver) at $500-$999; Gold Level at $1,000 and Platinum at $2,000. Donations can be spread over two years.

The present artist's rendering of a possible layout of the spray park is by no means the final design, Masten and Knuth assured. Plans are to work with students in all the county schools to get input on the features and options within each category that are most important to them.

"A big piece of why we want to put this here," Knuth said, "is to provide another positive outlet for families and children to play within our community.

"It's like the Emerald Palace," she continued. "You see what that's done for our park and our community. We're hoping to replicate that and create another positive experience and give back to our community."

Masten says it is important that younger children have another free amenity for recreational purposes.

"This amenity will keep people in Greencastle," she added. "It will keep me spending my day in my own community and spending money here for lunch and gasoline and snacks instead of driving over to Plainfield to the water park and buying lunch and gasoline and who knows what else there."



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