Manchester splash pad countdown is on

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 05. 2017 10:38PM
Standing in front of one of the city's new splash pad's signature features, Chief of Parks Don Pinard talks about the new attraction, which is scheduled to open May 23. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — The city’s first splash pad, located on the site of the former Dupont Pool on Manchester’s West Side, is set to open later this month, roughly a year later than Chief of Parks Don Pinard said in 2015 when he first pitched the idea of building one.

After weather delays and issues with contractors working on the project wiped out any chance of opening the water playground in 2016, Pinard understands if people are skeptical whether the planned ribbon-cutting on May 23 will actually happen.

It will, says Pinard. Honest.

“If it doesn’t, you’ll probably be talking to a different parks director,” joked Pinard.

The $425,000 splash pad, located at 207 Mason St., is the first such facility in the Queen City. Pinard and other parks officials hope the splash pad will alleviate crowding issues at other municipal swimming facilities like Livingston Pool, which features some amenities typically found at a splash pad.

“The idea is to provide an area that anyone in the city can use, even if they can’t swim,” said Pinard.

Splash pads feature nozzles, showers and spray guns for non-swimmers to enjoy the water and cool down on a hot day. As Pinard points out, they also don’t need to be supervised by a lifeguard.

“Our lifeguards tend to be college students home from school for the summer,” said Pinard. “We lose them in early to mid-August when they go back, that’s why our season is so short with the pools. With this, we’ll have someone who is safety-certified on site keeping an eye on everyone, but you don’t need a lifeguard. That means we can open earlier and close later in the summer, extending the season for us.”

The new splash pad features more than 40 amenities, including a couple dozen water jets located underfoot in the concrete, swivel spray nozzles resembling oversized water guns, a large dragon that sprays water from its mouth and a huge bucket that slowly fills up and dumps gallons of water onto a slide, sending it cascading onto anyone waiting below.

“That’s the signature piece, you could say,” said Pinard. “The kids sit there and wait and wait, and then it’s something to see when the water gets dumped. It’s something different, a little bit progressive. I can’t wait to fire it up.”

The splash pad has sections to it — one with amenities geared toward toddlers and “crawlers” as Pinard put it, another aimed at children aged 5-10 years old, and the area with the bucket and swivel nozzles, intended for older children, though Pinard points out anyone of any age is welcome in all three of the areas.

“No one’s going to be there saying ‘hey, you can’t go over there,’” said Pinard.

Pinard said use of public pools in the city has been dwindling in recent years, with the former Dupont Pool drawing the least amount of swimmers, which led to a decision to fill it in and construct the splash pad.

“It was a tough decision to make,” said Pinard. “I grew up in this area. I learned how to swim in this pool.”

Pinard said representatives from the company Vortex are expected in Manchester next week to train Parks and Recreation staff on how to operate the splash pad system.

“This is brand new for us,” said Pinard. “There’s a 4,000-gallon tank in the corner recirculating the water and regulating the chlorine. We’re used to pools with huge amounts of water and regulating the chlorine. Now there’s just 4,000 gallons.”

Pinard said the city will have the ability to switch out splash pad attractions in the years ahead if any “break or get stale with the kids.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the Dupont Splash Pad on May 23 at 11:30 a.m. Pinard said the splash pad will likely open for use Memorial Day weekend.

“There’s a huge level of interest,” said Pinard. “People are asking all the time when’s it going to open. It doesn’t look like much, but once it’s turned on and the water is coming out everywhere ... it’s going to draw people to this neighborhood.”

pfeely@unionleader.com


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