ARLINGTON – Arlington’s new Splash Pad opened in Haller Park over the Memorial Day weekend, and as the park’s frog mascot sculpture might say, the place was hopping.
A hot, sunny Memorial Day holiday drew a huge turnout of kids and families before noon to immerse themselves in a colorful river-themed park that featured interactive in-ground and above-ground water sprayers and jets, and custom river animals and flora that includes ducks, otters, salmon and two towering cattails on a blue-green surface designed to create a river feel.
For all the fun ways it uses water, the splash pad is more than a community water park. It’s a physics lesson in flow and fluid dynamics.
But who cares about hydrodynamics and Newton’s laws of motion when a cartoon raccoon in a bucket above you is about to shower a crystal dome of pressurized water down on you and your friends?
Not Tyler Cook, 10, who dashed out of the wall of water laughing and screaming along with the other kids.
“That was awesome!” Tyler said of the “tidal barrel,” dubbing it his favorite feature at the splash pad. “The bucket thing was cool because you didn’t know when the ton of water was going to shoot out.”
Parent Kayla Harrington said her family already liked coming to the park in recent years before there was a splash pad.
“Now it’s going to be leaps and bounds better,” she said.
Colton Blaisdell of Arlington, who turns 2 this month, sat on one of the river otters to take in the scene while his parents kept an eye out from the concrete rim seating that encases much of the splash pad.
“It’s so awesome that the city did something like this for the kids,” said another parent, Stephanie Padgett. “I love that the kids can run around and play, cool off, and when they get tired of one water jet they can go splash in another.”
Her 5-year-old daughter Emma staked out a favorite spot between the Arlington Rotary Club water wheel and a pair of ducks that sprayed jets of water from their mouths in any direction kid riders pointed them.
“She’s having a blast,” Padgett said.
For the city and numerous partners who raised $1.3 million in grants and community donations to make the 3,300-square-foot splash pad a reality, they said it was a great investment even for the extra time and effort it took to get it built.
“We’re super happy that it’s finally complete,” said Sarah Lopez, the city’s community revitalization project manager. “The wait for the project was well worth it.”
Lynda Byrnes, a champion of the splash pad with the Rotary Club, said the project turned out beyond expectations.
“It’s everything we ever hoped it was going to be, and more,” she said.
The splash pad was the third phase of a Haller Park makeover that started with a playground built in 2014 with donations raised through Rotary’s Great Stilly Duck Dash. Restrooms and a concessions and picnic area were added next funded by the city, Snohomish County and a federal grant.
The splash pad was funded through a $500,000 state recreation grant, with a $550,000 match from the Stillaguamish Tribe, and $150,000 contributed by the Rotary through their Friends of the Splash Pad fundraising efforts.
“The money was raised by the community for the children, to give the children a safe place to enjoy the water,” City Administrator Paul Ellis said. “This was done without any taxpayer dollars.”
Mayor Barb Tolbert thanked city staff and volunteers from the Arlington Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission who helped with the vision for splash pad.
Also included in the project are sidewalk connections from the restrooms and playground areas to the splash pad, and a building to house the circulation/filtration system.
Byrnes said Rotarians also laid new turf surrounding the splash pad so that families had the option to bring beach blankets, coolers and tents to relax in the grass, or sit along the concrete rim seating to keep an eye on frollicking kids. The then had an automated irrigation system installed.
Stillaguamish Chairman Shawn Yanity spoke at the opening ceremony. He reminded that historically the ground in Haller was a gathering place for the tribe, where relatives would come up river for a visit, go to other villages, hunt, and fish.
He was happy to see it continue as a gathering place, celebrating children with a safer place to play than going down to the river to swim.
Byrnes gave a lot of the design credit to fellow Rotary Bryce Duskin, both of whom also worked tirelessly to secure donations for the project.
With his children, Duskin’s a bit of a splash park aficionado having visited several over the years, so in terms of interactive features, he knew what would give Rotary and its partners the biggest “splash” for the buck.
Marysville-based Reece Construction was contractor for the project.
Just prior to opening, Garden Treasures Nursery and Organic Farm donated and planted shade for the park, and Rich Bellene and Sherri Phelps with the Arlington Kiwanis Club also helped plant more trees and shrubs.
The Stilly Snack Shack concession stand run by owners of the Grocery Outlet also opened at the splash pad. They serve naan bread, pizza, hot dogs, Slushies, snacks and drinks. Ten percent of all proceeds are donated to the Arlington Food Bank.
Byrnes said making the splash pad a fun place to spend the day was what the project was all about.
“I’ve been driving by the park practically every day to go see how busy it is, and every day I’m still smiling,” she said.