Feature Article - April 2011
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Puddle-Loving Fun

New Developments in Sprayground Design

By Deborah L. Vence

"A sprayground built on the same layout as the pool can come in with an expense budget anywhere from $20,000 to $10,000 depending on how it is operated. The city of Greeley operates [its] spraygrounds in the ball park of $14,000, which includes one staff member/attendant during operational hours. The amount of revenue generated at these facilities helps recover operational costs," he said.

"Most spraygrounds do not operate with attendants. The reason for our staff is to monitor the mechanical/chemical room and participation at each facility by doing head counts. This person also provides a sense of security for the parents to know that there is someone around to assist with first aid incidents and to provide a safe environment," he said.

Hancock, project manager for Metro Parks Tacoma, said his community opened three spraygrounds about four years ago, and has plans to open up three more over the next couple of years.

"As one of the neighbors said one evening while watching his kids play in the sprayground, 'It's brought this neighborhood together because of its popularity,'" he said. And, "[It is] extremely cost-effective, especially after you factor in the hours that they are open and number of users."

And, Shuttleworth, of Bridgeport Parks and Recreation, also said spraygrounds have brought benefits to the community.

"We added our sprayground as an addition to our 20-year-old outdoor seasonal pool," Shuttleworth said. "We viewed it as an attraction. Being the first of its kind in the state of West Virginia, it has proven to be a big hit. It has reversed the downward trends we had been experiencing in regards to attendance, season pass sales and the increased attendance has led to dramatic increases in concession sales.

"It has provided a great 'curb appeal' to our facility as it is brightly colored and the amount of water (1200 gal/min) we pump to our sprayground is rather impressive when passing the facility. The reaction has been interesting. We have 'zones' in our design that separate younger and older children," Shuttleworth said. "We have some big water features that are very attractive to older ages of children including teenagers. Our toddler section is very popular with small water features. It is very common to see toddlers playing in the area for hours.

"As a recreation professional, I love to see the parent/grandparent/ children interaction. When first installed, I had grandmothers say, 'It looks so fun, I wish I could go in.' I have always told them to go enjoy it with their grandchildren," he added. "The features can be enjoyed by many age groups at the same time. We have had handicap and impaired children utilize the sprayground. It provides an opportunity for all ages and ability levels to interact and enjoy our facility. The city and our department have been very pleased with the end result, and the effects it has had on our bottom line."