Gateway: Opinion

From the Helm: Making my case for construction of a spray park in Gig Harbor

Four-year-old Freyja White delights in playing with a fountain of water in the spray park at Tacoma Parks’ South End Recreation Center. There are no spray parks in the city of Gig Harbor.
Four-year-old Freyja White delights in playing with a fountain of water in the spray park at Tacoma Parks’ South End Recreation Center. There are no spray parks in the city of Gig Harbor. phaley@thenewstribune.com

In doing some background research on the initial plans for Key Pen Parks’ Gateway Park, as detailed in last weeks’ Peninsula Gateway, I found out that one of the five phases in the master plan of the project includes preliminary plans of putting in a spray park.

Construction on phase one of the project is anticipated to begin in 2017, with a dedication and opening of the property set for September 2017.

Now I understand that only phase one of the project is funded, and sometimes the scope and overall budget of large projects like this can change as phases are completed, but the fact that Key Pen Parks is talking about putting in a spray park is pretty cool.

Immediately, I thought of Gig Harbor and asked myself a question: Why there isn’t a groundswell of support for the same kind of project here?

It seems the community has been doing a lot of hand-wringing over the decision on what to do about Ancich Waterfront Park or the overly dominating theme of the battle for restaurant expansion in the Millville neighborhood. But those are strictly adult issues that pertain to a certain demographic in our community.

While the conversation about development of Ancich does bring youth interests into the picture with the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team and its involvement with the space, the club is still something that pertains to mostly junior high and high schoolers — not elementary school children and toddlers (and perhaps their parents), the group that would benefit most from the construction of a spray park.

On a recent trip to drop my 9-year-old daughter off at the Gig Harbor YMCA for summer camp, I took a few different roads around Harbor Hill to check out some of the new housing developments up there. A majority of the homes being built out there range from 2,600 to 3,600 square feet. As someone with three children of my own, I feel those square footage plans are tailor-made for families developers feel will be eventually buying a house in Gig Harbor. Couldn’t those families be further enticed to moving here if they hear about the addition of a spray park?

I know from my experience talking with citizens who speak up for or against the issues dealing with downtown make activism for their city a part of their weekly routine. I’m not sure I can say the same for working parents who are chasing toddlers around the house while trying to help their other children with homework or run them to soccer practice. There’s usually just not enough energy left over.

I haven’t talked to city officials yet about any potential plans for a spray park and I have no perfect spot in mind where the city could build one that would work best for a majority of families. But I do know that in my more than two years in this position, I’ve met a lot of people who live here who have either moved back from out of state or from elsewhere in Washington who want to do everything they can to make Gig Harbor a better place to live. Just when you start a sentence with “You know what Gig Harbor could really use ...” it seems there is a plan in place or a groundswell of support to get something done.

I see no reason why construction of a spray park shouldn’t be at the top of that list.

Tyler Hemstreet: 253-358-4150, themstreet@gateline.com, @gateway_tyler

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