Amidst concerns about the coronavirus, Defiance’s new splash pad park has been idle this spring. But that may change soon.
State restrictions on social gatherings have been the reason city officials have kept it closed, although cool spring weather might have kept attendance down if it were open. Normally, the splash pad — built in 2018 — would have opened around May 1.
Now, with state restrictions easing, the city is very tentatively planning to open the splash pad on June 1.
“We are preparing to open the splash park,” said Mayor Mike McCann. “It is ready to go. It’s just a matter of throwing a switch.”
But he emphasized that the opening is “not definitely June 1,” rather it’s “tentatively June 1.”
Some confusion remains about what will be permitted, McCann indicated during an interview Thursday afternoon.
“In my opinion, we’re getting mixed signals from the governor’s office,” he added. “I’m hoping for guidance in the next few days.”
The mayor wants to make sure the splash pad can open without uncertainty, to avoid the possibility of having to close it thereafter.
McCann said the playground equipment that was installed with the splash pad likely will remain off limits, however, at least for now.
The splash pad restrooms also will be open when the facility becomes operational, according to the city’s director of service, Rob Cereghin. (He explained that all restrooms in the city’s parks are scheduled to reopen June 1.)
Some time after the opening date — on a day yet to be determined — the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB) is hoping to put together a special evening at the splash pad for teens.
The “teen night” event might last from 7-10 p.m. one night, and include a deejay and food trucks, according to DDVB Executive Director Kirstie Mack. However, the details are still being worked out.
“We know that a lot of these kids haven’t been able to see their friends,” said Mack, explaining that officials asked, “What things can we do while social distancing, allowing them (teens) to see their friends they haven’t seen in eight, nine, 10 weeks now?”
While entertainment and food might be available, she said the evening would really be “an opportunity for them to start getting together again.” However, she said it’s uncertain what social distancing guidelines will be in place in the future, so the DDVB is not “100% sure how to do it yet.”
The splash pad — to be operational from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day — has been an easy facility for the city to manage and maintain since it opened in spring 2018.
Relying on timers, the water turns on and off for the day at specified times during the splash pad season, and the facility requires no lifeguards, unlike Kingsbury Pool. That facility will stay closed this year as city officials decided that hiring lifeguards would be problematic, given the uncertainty about when and if pools could open.
The splash pad was built with a combination of public city taxpayer funds and private contributions from businesses and residents.