The Puyallup parks department is designing a replacement for the popular wading pool in Pioneer Park that will debut next summer. The city will spend more than a half-million dollars on a new spray park and on educational playground equipment.
“It’s really going to add to our downtown core,” said Sarah Harris, parks administrator. “It will enhance the beauty at Pioneer Park.”
The wading pool, which was spared this past summer despite roughly $147,000 in cuts to the parks budget, doesn’t meet safety requirements and would be more expensive to retrofit than to replace.
Harris said a splash pad is safer, easier to maintain and allows flexible use over longer periods of time during the year.
She also said constant supervision of the new splash pad “won’t be necessary because there’s no standing water,” which will significantly reduce staff hours.
The spray park will be tailored to toddlers and elementary-aged children — the primary age group that traditionally uses the wading pool. But Harris said people of any age can use it.
Construction for the $550,000 project is expected to begin in April. Harris said the schedule will work around Pioneer Park events, such as the seasonal farmers market.
The project will be funded through the parks capital improvement budget, which is a separate pool of funds from those that were reduced in 2013. The money, which comes from park fees and sales tax, is designated annually for parks projects.
The city plans to unveil the new park July 4.
The design will have spray structures that complement the park’s surroundings and illustrate Puyallup’s history. Specifics have yet to be worked out, but daffodils might be included. There will be picnic tables and play areas for different age groups.
“We’re trying to make it blend in aesthetically to the park,” Harris said.
The city also will replace old playground equipment, adding literacy features with the help of library officials.
The spray pad will be installed north of where the wading pool now sits in the village green area of the park, with clear paths to the bathrooms and parking. The move is intended to minimize impact on summer weddings and other events at the pavilion.
The design process is in its final stages, and the Puyallup City Council will likely review final details in January.
Parks officials initially hoped to install a water reuse system, but said it would cost roughly $200,000 more to install and take at least 23 years to get a return on the investment.
In a presentation on the spray park plans last month, Puyallup City Council members were pleased with the progress despite minor concerns.
Councilman Steve Vermillion hoped the parks department could continue to explore a recyclable solution for water.
Mayor Rick Hansen cautioned the parks department to avoid taking away too much of Pioneer Park’s green space. But he said he’s pleased with the direction officials have taken.
“This is going to be a very, very good project,” he said.