Facility Profile - March 2005
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Green Bay Parks Pack a Splash

Seymour, Fisk, Bay View, Fort Howard, Farlin and Eastman Parks
Green Bay, Wis.

By Margaret Ahrweiler

Mention Green Bay, Wis., and most folks might think of snow, cold and wind—perhaps blowing across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. But for those looking for recreation opportunities, Green Bay now means water play in sun-filled splash play parks as much as ice fishing.

Looking to re-energize six downtown neighborhood parks, the Green Bay Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry embarked on a $750,000 program to add innovative splash play areas to each park. Using funding from the City of Green Bay Redevelopment Authority, the splash areas represented a creative, relatively low-cost way to bring water fun to many parts of the city while sprucing up parks that needed updating, says Dan Ditscheit, senior landscape architect for the city parks department.

"In our community, we see a lot of demand for aquatic facilities; this is an alternative way of bringing that to residents, along with being a real up-and-coming thing to have," he explains. "We have several wading pools that are becoming older and need a lot of work to maintain. Having these splash pads expands people's options and gives them a little more variety."

The splash parks project put this Dairyland city of about 100,000 residents ahead of the curve in aquatic trends. According to project architects Bonestroo Rosene Anderlik & Associates, Green Bay is the first municipality in Wisconsin to add six splash play areas at once.

The city added the amenities to Seymour, Fisk, Bay View, Fort Howard, Farlin and Eastman Parks, with each park's theme reflecting the community's character. At Fort Howard, which adjoins a school, the designers and city chose an "around the world" concept, with the concrete surface shaped and colored with stain to look like a globe and jets of water shooting out of a play globe.

Meanwhile, splash play came wrapped in a more traditional-looking package at Seymour Park. Nearby residents wanted an old-fashioned central plaza, so the design team created a "town square" theme, and the parks department installed only in-ground spray heads for a more versatile space. With the water turned off, the spot could double as a special-event space or neighborhood picnic site. A gazebo added nearby offers more versatility, along with shade.

Fisk Park, with a "diamond play theme," features a similar setup as well. Bay View Park boasts a "stepping stone" theme, Farlin Park has a "starfish" theme, while Eastman Park—with its daisy-shaped water spray—has bloomed with a "flower and fun" theme. The larger parks include such features as arches that emit spray, creating a tunnel effect, and umbrella-shaped equipment from which water cascades.

All the splash play areas feature a brushed concrete surface with a light broom finish, which Ditscheit says the city selected to best balance slip-resistance with the potential for painful toe-stubbing and knee-skinning. They added color through a colored, textured concrete coating system that created high-impact graphics. At Eastman, the concrete mirrors the flower pattern of its tall, daisy-shaped water spray.