HUDSON— Summer, at least according to the calendar, will have come and gone by the time it’s completed, but summer has a way of sticking around in these parts.
That means there’s a good chance kids will get the chance to try out the new Splash Pad at Veterans Memorial Park, on Hicks Road. Ground was broken there last week for what promises to be one of the most fun ways to stay cool a youngster could imagine.
The project is a community effort spearheaded by Investigation Station, a non-profit group dedicated to exhibits and learning experiences geared for children. The splash Pad will be a series of fountains, wet obstacles, spraying and pouring contraptions aimed at pure summer fun. But there also will be a valuable lesson incorporated. A huge mural facing the Splash Pad will tell the story of water and its natural cycles.
The fountains and spray devices will use a recirculation system to ensure minimum water use, said Lisa Campos, founder and director of the interactive museum Investigation Station. The educational materials will teach children water conservation and the processes of precipitation, condensation and evaporation, she said, so the new water attraction will not only provide a lot of fun, but also be educational.
The project is expected to be complete by the end of September, Campos said. That means the hottest part of the year will have passed, but there’s a good chance kids will get to break in the Splash Pad before next year.
“It’s still pretty hot in September,” said Campos, who suspects the new feature at the popular park will get some use before the weather turns cold this year.
Like the play fountains at Sims Park, in New Port Richey, the pad’s surface will only hold a thin layer of water.
“It’s zero depth, so there’s no danger of drowning,” said Campos.
County officials, state representatives, well-wishers and supporters of the project gathered at the park June 3 to dedicate the $326,000 project. It is funded entirely by donations from the community, including several businesses, including Steve Bourget's Rescreening, Bayonet Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Greg Jarque of Big Splash Pools & Spas, the Hudson Rotary Club and the Junior Service League.
The Splash Pad will be located in Veterans Memorial Park behind the gym and the swimming pool near the park’s playground.
Investigation Station began in 2005 with a goal of bringing a permanent children’s museum to Pasco County. An expensive and complicated project, it was decided the organization should do what it can now, so smaller, more quickly attained exhibits have been the focus. They include the astrological solar-walk exhibit, “From the sun to the Pluto” at Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey, and “Kidstruction,” a traveling Science, Technology, Engineering and Math exhibit.
Campos said the group hasn’t given up on the dream of a permanent museum like the one in St. Petersburg, but for now it will continue to focus on smaller projects. Investigation Station is looking for volunteers, as well as donations. Visit http://www.investigationstation.net to find ways to help.