Feature Article - April 2015
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How Refreshing!

Updating Splash Play to Meet New Demands

By Dawn Klingensmith

Splash play areas that are relatively new can capitalize on water-toy anchoring systems to create fresh configurations each season without destroying the existing framework.

"Having an anchoring system allows us to interchange or replace products without affecting the infrastructure. We've been doing that for over 10 years," Hamelin said.

With advance planning, you can add products atop existing base plates in subsequent years as the budget allows. Communities with several spraygrounds can swap features among them, constantly rejuvenating each of the pads. And it's not time-consuming or difficult: The Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Department in Bridgeport, W.Va., is able to change out a feature in as little as 20 minutes.

If interchangeability is made possible at the start, "It's like rearranging furniture in your home," said JC Jackson, operations manager of the pools department at H3O Water Systems, a pool, splashpad and drip irrigation design and installation firm in San Antonio, Texas.

While it may be possible to mix and match different manufacturers' products onto the same anchoring system, Hamelin suggests that park departments carefully vet, choose and stick with one manufacturer for the life of the pad. Connecting to another manufacturer's anchors may be a liability issue if the connection fails.

In addition to or instead of switching out large water features, "you can convert ground sprays to change the direction and sequencing of the event," Benck said.

Spray nozzles can be interchanged or replaced "to really catch the kids by surprise," Jackson said. "Just something as simple as getting sprayed in the faceā€”if it didn't happen in that spot last year, it's new and exciting."

At some locations, you may be able to add lights and sound, and some of the detachable water play systems "allow for seasonal activities that keep the community active even in the cold months, for example by removing the play features and creating an ice skating rink in the winter," said Shanley Hutchinson, marketing and communications manager for a Canadian manufacturer of aquatic recreation equipment based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Whatever you install or add, you have to respect the surrounding environment. "If it's an urban area, you don't necessarily want cartoon characters. If it's a park setting with vegetation, you may want to draw your inspiration from nature instead of a cartoon television show," Hamelin said. "You want the splashpad to blend in and be more subtle while providing a valuable play experience."