It was a ceremony three years in the making as the Wellesley Watering Hole splash park was officially unveiled to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Saturday morning.
Dozens of residents gathered just outside of the black fence surrounding the state-of-the-art facility as project leader Jennifer Kays Sommer, Mayor Ross Kelterborn and Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht took the stage to reflect on the journey to make the park a reality.
“We’ve been using the park for the past month, and it’s just been amazing,” said Kays Sommer. “On hot nights before bed there are 40-plus kids running around in the park, and every time we walk by the water is running.”
Kays Sommer and a committee of parents and volunteers approached Wellesley council about three years ago with the help of the local Lions Club to pitch the idea of the splash pad to them. Although they were met with some tough questions, she said they were optimistic by the response of Kelterborn and the other councillors that evening.
The mayor took some time to congratulate the committee for their hard work, and to emphasize the team approach used to get the project done.
“You, the volunteers, are building a strong family unit within this community and to us at Wellesley
Township that is very important,” he said.
Two large donor boards, one for corporate sponsorship and one for community sponsorship, were also unveiled.
The $260,000, 5,400-square-foot project is the first of its kind in Wellesley. The park uses a recirculation system to recycle much of the water used by those enjoying the pad, and it includes an advanced UV filtration system that ensures the water is safe for use.
Under that current configuration, 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 rainwater, thus reducing the burden on township water supplies and the sewage system.
Water consumption for a basic in/out water system in which no water is recycled is between 50 and 60 gallons per minute, or nearly two million gallons over the course of the summer.
The Lions Club received an Ontario Trillium grant worth $75,000, a grant from the KW Community Foundation for $15,000, and another $6,000 from Farm Credit Canada. An additional $80,000 was collected within the community from business owners, individuals, and through various fundraising initiatives.
“Promoting active and healthy lifestyles is fundamental to the work the Ontario Trillium Foundation has been doing since 1982,” said Peter Hinchcliffe who sits on the foundation’s board. “One of the ways we do this is through capital grants that allow groups to purchase equipment to help encourage physical activity and the grant that was awarded for this splash park is an example of the impact we’re making in communities across the province.”
The remainder of the money, approximately $80,000, was realized through in-kind donations of labour, materials and supplies by local businesses.
“The smiles and the laughter whenever we walk by is what make this worthwhile,” added Kays Sommer.
“Keep enjoying it, keep smiling and bring your friends. This is just an incredible town.”