Splash Park-2.jpg

“Big dreams, tight pockets” is a summer series about the town’s aging facilities and services under the umbrella of Community Services. Use of town parks, recreation programs, tourism, special events and the Community Center is on the rise while budget deficits have postponed expanded offerings and physical improvements. How does the town balance priorities and residents willingness to pay?

Four Peaks Rotary Club and Fountain Hills Rotary Clubs created the Splash Park in 2006 in partnership with the town.

At that time, the town matched the two Rotary clubs’ $150,000 contribution. The gift, along with the Rotary Community Musical Park, did not come with a lifetime of financial support. The agreement was that after construction, the splash pad would be dedicated to the town for operation, maintenance and any future improvements.

A similar scenario involved the Harmony Park, 13-musical instruments and shade structure donated by private individuals and organizations in 2017. No funds were dedicated for the upkeep, replacement of missing mallets and repairs.

The splash pad – the only water feature in Fountain Park – turned out to be immensely popular, attracting residents and out-of-town visitors from early morning to sunset. However, prolonged, extensive use is beginning to take its toll.

Community Services Director Rachael Goodwin said replacement of similar water parks is recommended every 10 years.

Extensive seal replacements, metal-on-metal and leaking fixtures need repair. Maricopa County is expected soon to require installation of a UV filtration system, too. Anticipated improvements could cost $500,000 or more, said Goodwin.

“Even with my limited knowledge, given the amount paid to construct the park, a $500,000 maintenance bill seems astronomical,” said Michelle Holcomb, Fountain Hills Rotary Club co-president in 2018-19.

Holcomb and Marty Brown, who was instrumental in originally planning and raising money for the project, said they did not know about overdue repairs.

New Four Peaks Club president Jeff Poynter also said he was unaware of the situation and planned to discuss the issue with his board of directors.

The county stalled construction of the splash park and increased the cost by $25,000 when it demanded installation of a grease trap to handle oils from sunscreen lotions on users.

Goodwin pointed out that the town’s seven playgrounds, open and maintained 365 days a year, receive high usage.

Next week: Golden Eagle Park