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Alexandria splash pad has a home

This drawing, provided by Aquatix, shows a splash pad with three different play zones, along with picnic shelters and a bench. (Contributed)

A proposed splash pad in Alexandria has a home.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council agreed to splash pad organizers' request to put the facility in Dean Melton-Fillmore Park.

A splash pad is a play area that offers water fountains, geysers or sprays that people of all ages can use to cool off in the summer. Sauk Centre recently added one and there are splash pads in Sartell, Waite Park, Sauk Rapids and three in St. Cloud.

No city money is going toward the project, which is estimated to cost between $450,000 and $500,000. Organizers, led by Brandon Johnson and Sarah Reif, are raising the money through fundraisers, private and business donations, and also plan to apply for grants.

Council members voted unanimously in favor of the site. Council member Virgil Batesole, however, said he has future concerns about the project's cost, safety and maintenance.

"You may go to a lot of work and come back to the council and we'd turn it down," he said. "I just want to understand the whole picture."

Reif said organizers will be working out those details and plan to hold at least three community meetings to explain the project to the public. She said they've been looking into the possibility of operating a concession stand to help pay for maintenance.

Bill Thoennes, the city's parks and facilities director, said the splash pad would be using a chlorinated water regeneration system that wouldn't require much maintenance. He said they'd only have to check on it every once in a while and winterize it in the winter by pulling a few plugs.

The pad, which would take up a 50-by-70-foot area, would be located just south of the restrooms. Extra benches, shelters, fencing and landscaping are included in the cost.

Reif and Johnson have been working on the project for two years, researching possible locations, design, systems and cost. Last August, the park board unanimously supported the idea of having the group proceed with its fundraising.

Construction won't start until the money has been raised for the project.

One of the possible design plans from the Aquatix company calls for three areas — a dynamic zone for children 7 and older, a tot zone for children 2 to 4 that offers more gentle activities, and a family zone for all ages.

Organizers were energized by the council's decision. After the unanimous vote was taken, Johnson gave the council a loud round of applause.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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