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Countdown to splash down

It’s been nearly three years since a group of citizens approached Wellesley council and pitched their bid for a splash pad in the village, and by late April all that hard work paid off when construction finally began – just in time for summer.

The site has been excavated, the initial aggregate has been laid down and some of the underground piping has been installed, but wet weather throughout the month of May has made it difficult to keep the final phase of the project on schedule.

“We were hoping to be finished by the end of next week, but the rain is delaying us,” said splash park coordinator and Wellesley Lions Club member Jennifer Kays Sommer, adding that the pad should be finished by the end of the month, and that the delays were just a minor road bump in the parks eventual completion.

“It’s been a three-year project so this part of it seems to be a breeze compared to the efforts of the last few years,” she laughed.

WORK, THEN PLAY David Schoonderwoerd, plumber for H2Ontario, and Jennifer Kays Sommer of the Wellesley Lions Club on the site of the new Wellesley splash pad, expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The $260,000 project is the first of its kind in Wellesley, and should easily find a niche within the community, Kays Sommer said. With only a few parks in town, many families have had to travel to Waterloo or Kitchener to find activities or other splash parks for their kids during the summer months.

“The community is really growing and there are so many young families coming in,” she said. “The tennis courts are in disrepair, and we don’t really have any other facilities. We thought it would be really nice for Wellesley to have another facility to offer the community.”

The 5,400-square-foot splash pad – originally slated to cost $240,000 – uses what is called a recirculation water system, meaning that the water is reused throughout the system instead of dumped down the storm drain and replaced by a fresh supply, easing pressure on the municipal water system.

“That’s an awful lot of water wastage through the summer, and in Wellesley we have watering bans and a sewer plant that is near capacity, and it just didn’t seem like the environmentally responsible thing to do.”

The recirculation system was an extra $60,000 to install, and due to new regulations,  the group had to spend an extra $20,000 on a UV filtration system to ensure the water is clean and safe, but that investment was well worth it, said Kays Sommer.

If the current design of the Wellesley pad was operating as an in/out system where fresh water was continually used to replenish used water, estimates from the engineering firm installing the pad placed the water consumption at between 50 and 60 gallons per minute, or nearly two million gallons over the course of the summer.

Under the current configuration, however, the 1,000 gallon tank will only lose about 10 to 15 per cent of its water capacity daily, depending on evaporation and wind conditions, and a portion is replenishable through rain water, reducing the burden on township water supplies and the sewage system.

To complete the project, the Lions Club received a Trillium grant worth $75,000, a grant from the KW Community Foundation for $15,000, and another $6,000 from Farm Credit Canada, plus an additional $80,000 was raised within the community from business owners, individuals, and through various fundraising initiatives.

The remainder of the money, approximately $80,000, was realized through in-kind donations of labour, materials and supplies by local businesses, including Poole Electric, Paul Schnarr Construction and H2Ontario in New Hamburg.

Access to the splash pad will be free to the public and the Lions Club has agreed to cover any costs for repairs and upkeep, such as winterization each year, and the township will pay to maintain the landscaping, including mowing the lawn.

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