GALLIPOLIS — Downtown Revitalization Project members met with Gallipolis City Commissioners Tuesday last week to discuss the potential addition of a splash pad in Gallipolis City Park.
President of the Downtown Revitalization Project Jim Wiseman stepped up for privilege of the floor.
“I have to read you something,” said Commission President Tony Gallagher. “I know what it is you’ve come to talk about and we found out that there is an ordinance that was passed back in April 17 of 1990 that’s still in existence. I’ll read you the ordinance and I just wanted you to have this for your knowledge. ‘There shall be no additional permanent structures placed above ground in the City Park . The term ‘structures’, however, shall not be defined to include any vegetation, waste containers, benches, drinking fountains, sprinkler system or lighting system.”
Wiseman asked if that meant there might need to be an ordinance change and Gallagher replied in the affirmative.
Wiseman presented information regarding the splash pad.
“The reason we’re here is that we have an idea to add to what we think is a beautiful City Park and that is a splash pad,” said Wiseman. “In the last five or six years, things have really been happening downtown.”
Wiseman said that the DRP was looking to add a splash pad similar to what has been done in Easton Town Center in Columbus.
“We want it to be professionally done and we think it will add to the dynamic in the park and not hurt anything else that’s already in the park,” said Wiseman. “(City Park) is a fantastic asset we have in Gallipolis.”
The structure would be either concrete, stone or brick potentially across from the Central Supply Hardware store near the park. Wiseman said the DRP would raise the money 100 percent for the project as well as raising funds for any continuing maintenance on the structure as well as the water bill. There would be no chemicals used in the structure and it would solely run on city water and sewer.
Splash pads are also called spray pools often in public parks that shoot water from the ground using nozzles. They allow for little to no standing water and can eliminate the need for lifeguards of supervisory roles. Oftentimes the pads can be paired with lighting displays. Pads typically only operate in summer hours.
The device, according to Wiseman, would have daily operating hours when in use and be connected to a timed button so that it would not run continually throughout a day.
“The biggest thing for us is that most of us that are involved in (DRP) are all younger people who plan to be here for a long time,” said Wiseman. “We all have kids that like to do these sorts of things.”
Wiseman said he felt the playground in Haskins Park was best suited there but felt the pad would attract attention downtown and serve as a fun distraction for children and individuals who would sit, eat and potentially just watch the water display. The area would be around 25 by 25 feet square.
Gallagher said the DRP would need to present their plan before the Gallipolis Historical Board and the Planning Board before it could come back to commission.
City Manager Gene Greene voiced concern that should the pad be created in City Park it would potentially void grant applications to the National Register of Historic Places. Greene was also concerned that if the splash pad was put in that might open a trend in more structures being added to the park. Gallagher also echoed similar sentiment saying that if the city considered the request of the DRP it would need to consider further requests from other groups.
Commissioner Matt Johnson said he did not mind opening the possibility of adding a structure and doubted the park would suddenly become filled with new structures.
“I said I wasn’t going to say anything tonight,” said local entrepreneur Robbie Pugh. “There are a few people in this town that are really fighting to make things happen and most of them are sitting here (referring to fellow DRP members). We have the utmost respect for you guys … But take a look downtown. Things are falling apart. I rent an office where there is a drug bust once a week … I just encourage you guys to open your minds a bit. I know there are going to be people against this (the splash pad initiative) but open your minds. It’s three inches of concrete.”
Commissioner Roger Brandeberry said he felt the splash pad would make for a nice addition to the city but he did not know that it would receive as much support from individuals in the city as many residents are attached to the park and have previously voice strong opposition to changes to it.
“Just talking about it in here, you can kind of see some of the issues, ” Brandeberry said.
Aaron Buckley, River City Leather proprietor, voiced a desire to see historical tiled memorializing the history of the park created around the splash pad.
“So what I’m hearing is that we’ve had a centrally located spot over the years which has evolved to meet the needs of the public,” said Johnson. “It was a cemetery, a courthouse, an encampment and it was all these things. It needs to evolve again and we can honor that history with a dual purpose unit. These are the guys who have invested downtown and we need to ask what we can do to help them.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.