Flick Park Pool
By Daniela Bloch
"Water is fun!" says Steve Case, vice president of marketing and sales at Fountain People, Inc., which created Flick's custom aquatic components. "We're what, 85 percent water? No wonder we have an affinity for it."
With heavy respect for inherent water affinity, Flick Park Pool opened to an eager community in spring 2005. As part of the Glenview Park District in Glenview, Ill., Flick Park functions as only one of numerous other recreational facilities in town. The park district as a whole boasts extensive programming within its 700 acres, including more than 40 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, 100-plus athletic fields, two skateparks, two golf clubs, an ice center with skating rinks, a community center, and two new outdoor pools.
Recently completing its second season, hot shot Flick Park still is turning community heads, especially with its custom, interactive spray game area where competing teams shoot suspended targets.
"The idea for the design developed between Williams Architects, our design team and the director of parks in Glenview," Case says. "We—the park director, the outside consultant [Williams Architects] and our design people, with their niche knowledge—worked together to do exactly what the city wanted."
The new recreational area, Case says, thus embodies a truly innovative collaborative effort between planners and facility directors.
When perusing the grounds, every corner attracts attention. The far end of the park offers three pools: a 25-yard, eight-lane lap pool for the serious swimmers; a small pool with a diving well, two drop slides and two diving boards for the adrenaline-craving crowd; and a somewhat larger pool with two longer, more convoluted waterpark-style slides for adventure-seekers.
In the zero-depth pool area, young children splash around excitedly in shallow water while parents loll under sherbet-colored umbrellas.
Look to a different corner and another meant-for-kids pool can be found. This one boasts three water-spewing flowers that dangle over the pool's edge and threaten the dry heads of all those who enter. In the center of the pool, a large, tree-like structure spouts water from all corners while the faux birds and butterflies adorning the fixture sit prettily in place.
A stairway to water heaven—albeit a safe one, with sturdy railings to hold onto—takes children through the tree house. There they can get a surprise from a rectangular pail at the top of the tree house that continuously fills with water from a spout until someone tugs at the rope—all the water then splashes on the curious rope-tugger's head.
But the clincher is the interactive spray game located by the splash pool with the two flumed water slides. The two sets of triggers on both ends of the pool are enchantingly inviting to children. Not to mention the two sets of color-happy targets, with individual speakers, an inventive addition to the feature.
"The game feature has recorded sounds with vocal instruction that says to the kids, 'Hey! Let's play a game!' and gives them feedback," Case says. "Winning is winning, and losing is punishment."
The aim of the game: to shoot water at the targets quicker and more accurately than the enemy, namely the two players on the other team. Verbal encouragement and immediate feedback sound from the speakers perched above the targets. In the end, one team revels in victory while the other bravely awaits the penalty. The cruel suffering the losers must endure: a refreshing splash from the large, color-coordinated showerheads placed directly behind the matching triggers. Four children can play at any given time.
"We've used technology for fountains and specific water features but never like this," Case says. "We transferred known technology using electronics and small micro switches to record play activity so you can keep score and keep track of all things."
The water arcade game was just what the city wanted when it decided on creating a new interactive game for kids to enjoy at the facility, though the custom game's configuration presented some obstacles. One in particular: synchronization.
"There were quite a few challenges in having the interactive responses of the game correspond with the kids as they were playing," says Preston Tatum, vice president in charge of new product development and engineering at Fountain People, Inc.
But the result came out on target, so to speak, as the game performs accurately and actively engages those lured in by its colorful and wet charms.