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January 10, 2013

Cash for splash

Chamber asks AEDC for $75,000 for water pad project

Athens —

The Athens Economic Development Corporation tabled a request from the Athens Chamber of Commerce on Thursday for funds to help pay for a splash pad at Kiwanis Park.

Chamber of Commerce Board President Tony Kalawe said the cost to construct the pad and prepare the portion of Kiwanis Park where it will be located will total about $200,000. Kalawe asked the AEDC to commit $75,000 for the project. 

“We’d love to have this ready by next summer,” Kalawe said.

Kalawe said the Athens Leadership Institute became interested in bringing a splash pad to Athens after looking for a service project for the year. ALI and Kiwanis are now partnering to build the pad.

Kalawe said the organizations are making progress toward getting the needed funds. As of Thursday, $52,916 had been contributed to the project by various businesses and organizations.

The chamber accepted a bid in December from Kraftsman Water Parks to construct the 2,300-square-foot Pad. The surface will be large enough to hold about 100 children at a time. Construction of the pad will fill the void left by the removal of the Kiwanis Park pools a few years ago.

Kalawe said the pad will be safer and can be used by all ages, not just children.

“It’s not just for little kids, but even us big kids, too,” Kalawe said. “I promise you, when this thing is built some of us will be running through those sprinklers.”

Kalawe said there are several advantages to the pad over a pool. Because the splash pad will have no standing water, no chemicals are needed to purify it. The pad is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, and handicapped members of the community can enjoy the water without leaving their wheelchairs.

Kalawe said other cities have had success with splash pads. Longview has four at various locations. In the future, Athens could either expand the one at Kiwanis Park or add another at a second location such as Cain Center.

AEDC Board Chairman Bob Gould said the body will take the matter under advisement and discuss it again after studying the information.

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