Splish splash, need some cash

Backers hope to raise $200K for a spray pool at the aquatic center.

The old spray pool at Battle Point Park was popular.

The outdoor wading pool with misting fountains was a popular cool off spot for kids but also a popular romp for dogs and a popular shower spot for athletes as well.

The park wasn’t popular with the Kitsap County Health District, which in 2004 told the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District that it would either have to install a water treatment system or shut it down. With lingering problems of over spray and poor drainage adding to the health concerns, the park district decided to turn off the jets.

“It was a really fun feature,” Kathy Martens said. “But we realize there were a lot of reasons it needed to come out.”

Martens, an island mom, is leading a group of parents who have a plan for building a new spray park, this time at the Aquatic Center.

Last week the group presented the Park Board with its proposed “Spray Garden” design, and its plan for raising the roughly $200,000 it will take to build it. The group will return to the Park Board in February to seek official approval for creating ad hoc committee with park district staff, so it can begin fundraising.

The effort to build a new spray park started shortly after the spray pool closed at Battle Point.

Interest began percolating on the website of the online group IslandMoms and Martens picked up inspiration from the forum posts.

She began researching options for a cleaner, safer spray park while organizing with park district staff and volunteers to chart a path to fruition.

Together they decided the Aquatic Center would be the most logical location. It offers a ready supply of pressurized water, an abundance of parking and a location within easy walking distance of downtown; all things lacking at Battle Point Park.

Park District Recreation Services Director John DeMeyer, who has agreed to serve as project manager for the Spray Garden, said an outdoor water park would fit well with the Aquatic Center’s offerings.

“The more variety the better,” DeMeyer said. “If you have a variety of activities it keeps things fresh.”

The base of the proposed Spray Garden would be a 70 foot by 40 foot concrete pad on the terrace abutting the southeast side of the aquatic center.

About 10 powder-coated metal spray features - from fountains that spout when stomped on to elevated buckets that fill and dump on unsuspecting heads - would be set across the pad based on age group.

A walkway around the perimeter of the Spray Garden would be beyond the reach of splashing water and serve as a refuge for supervising parents and sated children.

Unlike the Battle Point spray pool, the Spray Garden would have no standing water. Martens said she had found through her research that spray parks are increasingly being used to replace traditional wading pools, which carry a drowning risk.

“It’s definitely a national trend,” she said.

The water in the park would be chlorinated and cycled through filters and cleansed by ultraviolet rays in a system separate from the Aquatic Center.

Martens said that in the winter when the spray park is closed, the fountains could be disconnected and used in the shallow area of an indoor pool.

Another feature the Spray Garden would have that the Battle Point spray pool did not is a serious price tag.

The old spray pool was installed in 1995 at the cost of $15,000 and thousands of volunteer hours.

“It was a backyard, do-it-yourself kind of deal,” DeMeyer said.

Spray Garden organizers estimate that the water system for the new park alone would cost $117,000.

It would take another $8,200 annually for maintenance, including the wages of seasonal workers to clean and make repairs, although some of the maintenance could be shared Aquatic Center employees.

Backers believe the Spray Garden could generate enough revenue from added traffic to the Aquatic Center to cover operating costs.

“We’re hoping to make it a wash there,” DeMeyer said.

Meanwhile the group hopes to get park board approval and kick off a fundraising effort in February. If all goes to plan, it would have designs completed by fall before applying for permits and have all the needed funds raised by Spring of 2009 with construction scheduled for later that year.

All the money for the project would come from donations and grants.

The group is using the successes and shortcomings of the Battle Point spray pool to guide its new effort. DeMeyer said the most important lesson was that an outdoor water park was in high demand on the island.

“On a hot day, people love the outdoor spray features,” he said.


Spray n’ watch

For information on the Spray Garden project, contact Kathy Martens at

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